Equitable and smart cities and regions

 The Baltimore region's broadband access. Image: The Brookings Institute,

The Baltimore region's broadband access. Image: The Brookings Institute,

I have worked on several projects to characterize the state of equitable cities and regions in metropolitan areas across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Relatedly, I have also been involved in efforts to investigate how smart technologies can best be employed in low-income communities to increase their access to opportunity.

Equitable Cities and Regions in the U.S. and Beyond

In 2017, I was invited to be a part of a symposium entitled, “A Shared Future: Fostering Communities of Inclusion in an Era of Inequality”sponsored by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Symposium. My paper "Equitable Future for the Washington, DC Region?: A 'Regionalism Light' Approach to Building Inclusive Neighborhoods" reflects on what would it take to remake neighborhoods to move the region toward integration by race and income in the next few decades? The paper proposed strategies that build towards regional housing policies and plans, but also recognize the tough political realities of making regionalism work. The will be featured in a forthcoming volume, A Shared Future: Fostering Communities of Inclusion in an Era of Inequality, published by the Harvard Center for Housing Studies. 

In a related project, I have been on a project with Gerrit-Jan Knaap, and scholars at the University of Chicago and University College Dublin on a project entitled, "Land Markets and Social Equity: An International Comparative Perspective." Following up on a conference held at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy that I helped to organize in 2017, this project seeks to understand how the geography of opportunity and equity different in cities in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe, the role of land and housing markets play in perpetuating inequality, and interventions that can make social spatial patterns more equitable? 

Smart and Equitable Cities

New “smart cities” technologies are poised to radically alter the form and function of cities. Free public wifi, the Internet of things, autonomous vehicles, web-based curricula, personal health monitors and smart transit hubs have the potential to radically change how transportation, education, public health, and economic development are organized and delivered. In the past, unfortunately, the adoption of new technology has exacerbated disparities in income and wealth, creating what is known as “the digital divide.” 

I am currently working as part of the NCSG team on a project funded by the National Science Foundation, which asks how investments in smart cities technologies improve the lives of low-income, inner-city residents. The project seeks to engage with low-income residents in West Baltimore, Maryland, bring research on how to design applications and interventions can address the residents' needs of residents and on the effects smart cities investments in low-income communities. The project team includes an array of technical and social scientists from five Baltimore-area universities, a team of smart city technology providers, and leaders of local governments, neighborhood associations, and community development corporations.