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ASU, Amazon Web Services collaborate on Smart City Cloud Innovation Center

Center will use cloud computing, AI and machine learning to address regional challenges

teresa Carlson

Teresa Carlson, vice president of worldwide public sector for Amazon Web Services, announced the ASU Smart City Cloud Innovation Center initiative during a smart summit in Phoenix on Nov. 15.

November 15, 2018

Arizona State University today announced the ASU Smart City Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) Powered by AWS, an initiative that focuses on building smarter communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area by using AWS Cloud to solve pressing community and regional challenges.

The new center is designed as part of a long-term collaboration between ASU and Amazon Web Services to improve digital experiences for smart city designers, expand technology alternatives while minimizing costs, spur economic and workforce development and facilitate sharing public-sector solutions within the region.

“The ASU Smart City CIC has the opportunity to bring tremendous value to the local community and its citizens,” said John Rome, deputy chief information officer at ASU. “We’ve been approached by city planners, health care administrators and ASU faculty members to work on challenges around autonomous vehicle governance, health care management, urban resilience and a host of education-related challenges. The possibilities for the CIC are endless.” 

"ASU, which is the size of a small city, makes a perfect test bed for smart technologies,” said Wellington “Duke” Reiter, executive director of ASU’s University City Exchange. “The ASU Smart City CIC has many potential applications across the Phoenix metro region. In addition to serving as a training ground for ASU students, it can provide resources for large-scale initiatives like TenAcross, which addresses pressing societal and environmental issues from coast-to-coast along the I-10 Corridor.”

One example of how the ASU Smart City CIC might contribute to the community is a consistent street-lighting system across the region.

“We’ll standardize the processes and data collection from streetlight sensors so that city planners can integrate information from individual communities to formulate possible regionwide implementation plans,” explained Rome. “The same processes can be used to address a wide range of regional issues as cities begin to incorporate IoT (Internet of Things) technologies into the infrastructure.”

“We’re excited to work with ASU to introduce the ASU Smart City CIC, helping local and regional organizations solve some of the toughest public-sector challenges through the use of cloud-based technology,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president of worldwide public sector for AWS. “This new CIC provides a model for public-sector digital transformation not just in Greater Phoenix, but in communities around the globe. We’re looking forward to working with ASU to bring innovation and best-in-class technology to students on campus, and to the many citizen service organizations that support the region.”

Housed initially at ASU’s SkySong in Scottsdale and staffed by AWS and ASU employees, the ASU Smart City CIC will support visiting scholars, faculty, student researchers, industry experts and community members to identify best-in-class solutions for smart city challenges. The center is slated to open in early 2019. 

“The ASU Smart City CIC will be a one-of-a kind innovation center in Arizona with limitless possibilities for digitally transforming our state with data, AI and machine learning,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president for ASU Knowledge Enterprise and chief research and innovation officer. “I’m excited ASU is continuing to grow and foster a strong relationship with AWS and is making these technologies more accessible to community and regional groups who can benefit from the innovation that the cloud provides.”

"The pace of innovation is changing rapidly, and Greater Phoenix is keeping up by showcasing its strength as the nation’s technological proving grounds,” said Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “A true regional asset that will provide immense value, ASU’s Smart City CIC is going be a place where everyone from corporate to community can collaborate as we innovate and build the future place together."

The ASU Smart City CIC is the most recent of the AWS CIC programs, which employ Amazon’s innovation processes, cloud expertise and global solution platforms. Other CICs include those at California Polytechnic University Digital Transformation Hub in San Luis Obispo, California, and the Busan-Amazon Cloud Innovation Center located at Dongseo University's Centum campus in Busan, Korea.

“The residents and visitors of Greater Phoenix will benefit the most from this exciting partnership between ASU and AWS,” said Dominic Papa, executive director of the Institute for Digital Progress. “The ASU Smart City CIC will empower the region to rapidly prototype innovative solutions to our most pressing urban issues. Through this collaboration, we will be able to collectively accelerate solutions to civic challenges and enhance the quality of life for all people: the true goal of any smart city or smart region.”

The CIC is the latest ASU-AWS collaboration. In August 2017, ASU placed 1,600 Amazon Echo Dots in its Tooker House engineering residential facility, giving students access to a custom ASU-developed skill for Amazon Alexa. For the fall 2018 semester, ASU collaborated with AWS Educate to launch its Innovation Scholar Challenge, which included a series of cloud skill-building workshops and on-campus hackathons.

When permanent space is available, the ASU Smart City CIC will move from SkySong to the NOVUS Innovation Corridor, a smart city, mixed-use initiative underway in Tempe.

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