Georgia Tech’s Serve-Learn-Sustain Hosts Conference

Integrated Network for Social Sustainability

June 22, 2017, 12:06pm EDT

For the second year in a row, Georgia Tech’s Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain hosted a satellite conference as part of the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS). The multi-site conference brought together participants from Atlanta, Charlotte, Baltimore and Lima via webcast to discuss this year’s theme of “Smart, Connected Communities.” IPaT and Civic Data Science co-hosted this year’s Atlanta conference with SLS.

The goal of the conference was to discuss plans for working on Georgia Tech and Atlanta-based initiatives focused on data for sustainable communities that support collaboration among faculty, students and partners to enhance and expand teaching, research and action.

“It’s about people in conjunction with the environment. What does it mean to be a more connected community?” said Rafael Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Georgia Tech, and professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

After welcome addresses from Bras and SLS Director Jennifer Hirsch, participants explored the intersection of art and data and sustainability in art. Atlanta-based new media artist Bojana Ginn presented some of her art projects that merge organic materials like wood and lamb’s wool with technology such as LED lights.

“As an artist, sometimes you have to be an engineer and use nature in a new way,” explained Ginn during her presentation.

Ginn is also creating art from data. She’s working with the Atlanta Regional Commission to translate their environmental, health and transportation line graph data into an art installation.

Mike Carnathan, manager of the Research & Analytics Division of the Atlanta Regional Commission, continued the discussion on the topic of Data-Driven Decision Making. He said, “the possibilities of big data are limitless” and has the potential to change the world, but data alone is meaningless. Carnathan challenged participants to turn data into meaningful information and take action based on the results.

The Atlanta conference then joined other sites via webcast for a keynote from David Ludlow, associate professor of European Smart Cities for the University of the West of England Bristol. He offered insight into the experience of European smart city governance, research and innovation projects. Ludlow says the dynamic of social and technological innovation is defining a new smart city governance, responding to the complex challenges of urban planning and simultaneously disrupting the governance model in fundamental ways. Cities must shift from a top-down expertise model to more participatory engagement with all stakeholders, according to Ludlow.

During lunch, attendees participated in roundtable case study discussions on the topic of “Data in Action.” Facilitators from IPaT and the Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center (GT-RNOC) led a discussion on the Campus as a Smart City, which explored the ongoing and future efforts to use the Tech campus as a testbed for smart cities research and innovation.

Day one of the conference wrapped up with sessions on empowerment and ownership of community research and advancing equity through smart, connected communities. The conference’s second day focused on listener reports and working sessions.

To learn more about the conference, visit the Serve-Learn-Sustain website.

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