Sustainable Smart Cities UAB logoLocal, national, and international experts in green design and transportation, intelligent technologies, environmental sustainability, health and livability, economic development, and government and public policy joined forces on Thursday, February 16, at the inaugural UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium which highlighted smart growth initiatives in Latin America and other parts of the world to a diverse crowd of close to 300 people. Smart cities depend on the commitment of city government, the business community, academia, and engaged citizens. The event served as the kick-off for the new UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center which brings together researchers from engineering, business, medicine, and other fields to seek innovative solutions to complex sustainability issues in Birmingham and around the world. Birmingham Mayor William Bell presented opening remarks and discussed the City’s successes and future plans for developing a smarter Birmingham.

Keynote speakers and panel discussion included: Cathy Crenshaw, President and CEO of Sloss Real Estate; Oscar E. Diaz, Co-founder and President of Global Solutions Dynamic Plus (GSDPlus); Frank Franklin, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus of the UAB School of Public Health; Manuel Olivera, Regional Director of the C40 Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI); Enrique Peñalosa, Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia; and Dietmar Offenhuber of MIT SENSEable Labs, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The daylong symposium was hosted jointly by the UAB School of Engineering, the UAB School of Business, the UAB School of Medicine, and the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center. Sponsors included Alabama Power and the City of Birmingham. Funding agencies included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the National Science Foundation.

For more information, download the 2012 Symposium poster.

Cartoon ninjas on the computer.

2018 Hackathon

August 8 & 9, 2018

Join us for two days of intense colaborative coding as you work within a team to solve real problems around Birmingham. Download flyer.

 

National Science Foundation logo
May 9-11, 2017

NSF Sustainable Smart Cities International Workshop

The Sustainable Smart Cities International Workshop, which took place in Alexandria, Egypt on May 9-11 2017, was organized to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and the exchange of knowledge related to advancing sustainable urbanization and smart cities.

Read more: NSF International Workshop

ssc symposia
October 1, 2015

Sustainable Smart Cities Annual Symposium 2015

More than 200 people filled the UAB Alumni House on Thursday, October 1 to learn from experts from around the world on matters concerning urban sustainability and development at the 2015 Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium.

Read more: Annual Symposium 2015

Birmingham at night square
February 20-22, 2015

Global Urban Datafest: A Smart Cities Hackathon

The Global Urban Datafest is a multi-city hackathon, a weekend of intense collaborative coding. We bring together two diverse groups. One is developers, data scientists, open hardware enthusiasts. The other includes urban experts, journalists and specialists in all other fields. Diverse teams typically produce best results. This is why we invite people of all backgrounds to participate.

Read more: Global Urban Datafest

ssc symposia
June 12, 2014

Sustainable Smart Cities Annual Symposium 2014

The 2014 Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium featured a keynote address by Barbara McCann, Director of the Office of Safety, Energy, and Environment, Office of the U. S. Secretary of Transportation. Other notable national and international speakers were The Honorable Mayor William A. Bell, JD, Mayor of the City of Birmingham, John Adlen, Director of the Sustainable Futures Lab, Staffordshire University, United Kingdom, and Linda C. Lucas, Ph.D., Provost of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, among many others.

Read more: Annual Symposium 2014

ssc symposia
April 3, 2013

Sustainable Smart Cities Annual Symposium 2013

The 2nd Annual UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium: Advancing the Science of Cities, gathered over 200 participants who attended the one day conference. Inaugural remarks were delivered by The Honorable William Bell, Birmingham City Mayor, and Dr. Richard Marchase, UAB Vice President of Research and Economic Development.

Read more: Annual Symposium 2013

ssc symposia
February 16, 2012

Sustainable Smart Cities Inaugural Symposium 2012

Local, national, and international experts in green design and transportation, intelligent technologies, environmental sustainability, health and livability, economic development, and government and public policy joined forces on Thursday, February 16, at the inaugural UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium which highlighted smart growth initiatives in Latin America and other parts of the world to a diverse crowd of close to 300 people.

Read more: Inaugural Symposium 2012

 

Sustainable Smart Cities UAB logo

More than 200 people filled the UAB Alumni House on Thursday, October 1 to learn from experts from around the world on matters concerning urban sustainability and development at the 2015 Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium.

The symposium, organized by the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center, is an annual event that focuses on the innovations—such as big data, renewable energy and smart mobility—being used to help make Birmingham and other cities around the world smarter, safer and more livable.

In opening remarks, center director Fouad H. Fouad, Ph.D., who is also chair of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, celebrated UAB’s collaborations with the city and called Birmingham’s new bike-share program “a big step forward for sustainability."

Landscape architect Thomas Woltz, who was named Design Innovator of the Year for 2013 by the Wall Street Journal, was the event’s keynote speaker. Woltz designed a block-long park and plaza to adjoin Alabama Power Company’s Powell Avenue Steam Plant redevelopment near Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham. He said on Thursday that the new plaza should evoke the Magic City’s geology, rich history and industrial heritage. “I hope this is a place where you can come with your children and tell stories about what you are as a city,” he said.

In designing a large public space, Woltz said that he and his staff—who are collaborating with several Birmingham design and construction firms—dig deep into the history and culture of an area. In this case, they wanted to reflect Birmingham’s mineral wealth and its status as an industrial and railroad hub. “We want ideas that will be meaningful and relevant in a place,” Woltz said.

Other speakers included School of Engineering Dean Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., and Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who that the city and UAB are “in the forefront of planning for the future.” The city encourages developers to use LEED environmental standards in new construction, according to Bell. “In everything we do at city hall, we think about sustainability,” the Mayor said.

Additional Speakers

Rizwan Khaliq, Director of Marketing and Communications for IBM Global Public Sector and Smarter Cities, discussed the link between technology and the economic competitiveness of cities around the world. He said that cities must work hard to build their “brands” and reputations as vital, livable places in order to attract the top, young talent they need to grow their economies.

This is more challenging now, since employees at companies like IBM can work remotely and live wherever they want, according to Khaliq. “Birmingham is not just competing with Louisville,” he said. “You are competing with cities in China.”

“Each locality has to think about what it stands for from a branding perspective,” he said. He said that the city of Birmingham’s new bike-share program will allow the city to “get ahead of something that’s coming."

Teresa Bouza, a journalist and the founder of Datafest, a hackathon that brings together technologists, data scientists and other experts to help solve problems in 48-hour weekend sessions, discussed the value of hackathons, which are being held all around the world. “When you bring people with diverse skills and backgrounds over just a weekend it is incredible what they create,” she said.

She talked about the Smart Cities Hackathon held in Birmingham in 2015, in which UAB and Auburn University took part. In one project, a group radically improved the City of Birmingham web site where buyers can search for information about the roughly 5,000 blighted properties in the city’s recently created land bank.

Woltz, Khaliq and Bouza participated in a panel discussion about sustainability moderated by Molly Wasko, a professor at the UAB Collat School of Business. Also on the panel were Ann August, director of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transportation Authority, and Christopher D. Hatcher, City of Birmingham urban design administrator.

The new park on Powell Avenue will attempt to harmonize with nearby Railroad Park, make visual use a massive smokestack on top of the old steam power plant, and will use native plants and such indigenous materials as limestone to powerfully evoke the city’s industrial past, according to Woltz. “We are trying not to just make up stuff from the outside but do things that are actually a portrait of the city,” he said.

For more information, download the 2015 Symposium poster.