You are here

Urban Collaboratory

Building Smarter and Healthier Cities

The University of Michigan Urban Collaboratory draws together faculty experts from across campus in smart city technologies and urban design to collaborate directly with city stakeholders to address targeted challenges that impact the livability of communities.

As part of the Urban Collaboratory, launched in 2017, interdisciplinary faculty teams work closely with city stakeholders to identify specific challenges, develop an effective approach and then implement smart city solutions guided by novel urban design methods.

“We’re not researchers looking to apply solutions, and through that process, trying to find problems—we’re the complete opposite,” said Professor Jerome Lynch, co-director of the Urban Collaboratory. “We’re working with stakeholders to identify problems, and then we come forward with new solutions that are structured around our ability and intellectual capacity. It’s very intentional for us to get faculty members out of their labs and out of their classrooms to work directly in the community. That’s where we can have the most impact.”

Research

U-M researchers are working on Urban Collaboratory projects in Benton Harbor, Detroit and Grand Rapids. They also are working to identify specific projects in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

“Through the efforts of the Urban Collaboratory, researchers in fields ranging from social sciences to engineering, urban planning and design are working with city stakeholders to prioritize access to fundamental human needs,” said Professor Geoffrey Thün, co-director of the initiative. “That’s what is most important here.”

In regard to Benton Harbor, the university funded seven research projects that address two of the city's primary concerns—mobility and water. Funded research projects are below:

  • Transit and Employment Accessibility Modeling for Benton Harbor, Michigan
    • This project will engage Benton Harbor residents to examine how citizens might change transportation habits with an improved public transit system. Specific emphasis will be placed on resident needs with respect to employment opportunities and job retention.
    • Principal Investigator: Tierra Bills
  • Integrating Health and Asset Management Techniques to Improve Water Service Delivery in Benton Harbor
    • This project will work with the city water utility to identify appropriate risk assessment techniques to solve problems in drinking water quality brought on by declining population and aging pipes.
    • ​Principal Investigators: Glen T. Daigger, Nancy G. Love, Seth Guikema and Joseph N. Eisenberg
  • Modulation of Flashiness and Sediment Loading in Ox Creek (Benton Harbor) Through Real-Time Control of Agricultural Runoff
    • This project will look to improve water quality in Ox Creek, which runs through the city. It adopts sensing in the Ox Creek watershed to monitor water quality, flow conditions and to control drains in an effort to improve creek quality and performance.
    • Principal Investigators: Branko Kerkez and Avery H. Demond
  • Deployment of an Urban Sensor Network to Monitor Benton Harbor Street Activity
    • This project looks at deploying urban sensor networks based on the U-M Urbano urban sensing platform in certain sections of the city to monitor walkability, air quality and other quality of life parameters.
    • Principal Investigator: Jerome P. Lynch
  • Prototype Design for New Mobility Hubs Benton Harbor
    • This project will examine potential locations and design for new formats of infrastructure that increase levels of access to food, health and learning while providing a physical interface with proposed new-mobility solutions.
    • Principal Investigators: ​​Geoffrey Thün and Kathy Velikov
  • Tracking, Simulating, and Optimizing Mobility Services in Benton Harbor
    • This project will examine the city's public transit system (Dial-a-Ride) with an eye on solving the infamous "first- and last-mile" problem of public transportation. The effort explores an automated reconfiguration solution of the public transportation system to react to user demand based on data and models.
    • Principal Investigator: Pascal Van Hentenryck
  • Initiating Engagement with Benton Harbor Residents Through Focus Groups
    • Principal Investigators: Elisabeth R. Gerber and Jeffrey D. Morenoff

​Leadership

Name

Title


Jerome Lynch

Co-Director
Donald Malloure Department Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Geoffrey Thün

Co-Director
Associate Professor of Architecture
Associate Dean for Research, College of Architecture and Urban Planning


Nancy Love

Co-Director
Borchardt and Glysson Collegiate Professor
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Glen Daigger

Co-Director
Professor of Engineering Practice, Civil and Environmental Engineering


Curt Wolf

Managing Director

Principal Investigators

Name

Title


Tierra Bills

Assistant Professor/Postdoctoral Scholar in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Glen Daigger

Professor of Engineering Practice, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Avery Demond
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Joseph Eisenberg
John G. Searle Professor of Public Health
Chair, Department of Epidemiology
Professor of Epidemiology
Professor of Global Public Health

Elisabeth Gerber

Jack L. Walker Jr. Collegiate Professor of Public Policy
Associate Dean for Research and Policy Engagement, School of Public Policy
Professor of Political Science
Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies


Robert Goodspeed
Assistant Professor of Urban Planning

Seth Guikema
Associate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Branko Kerkez
Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Nancy Love
Borchardt and Glysson Collegiate Professor
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Jerome Lynch
Donald Malloure Department Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Jeffrey Morenoff

Professor of Sociology
Director, Population Studies Center
Research Professor, Population Studies Center
Research Professor, Survey Research Center
Professor of Public Policy


Geoffrey Thün
Associate Professor of Architecture
Associate Dean for Research, College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Pascal Van Hentenryck

Seth Bonder Collegiate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Kathy Velikov
Associate Professor of Architecture

 

Questions?

The U-M Urban Collaboratory was featured in the September 2017 issue of Michigan Research.