The challenges we face as a society are more complex than any one organization, sector, or partnership can solve on its own. The promise of smart cities is a massive innovation challenge; there is little to no innovation without connection, collaboration, and inclusion of multiple points of view. From the diversity of our founding team to the ecosystem we’ve built around Urbanova, we are practicing team-building on a grand scale. It’s a worthy objective – but it’s neither easy nor fast. We’re approaching our mission with a growth mindset and are practicing principles such as humility, curiosity, and a willingness to learn and adapt.

Urbanova is pursuing scalable and replicable solutions suitable for midsize cities anywhere. Cities are fundamentally about people – so instead of starting with technology, we’re starting with an understanding of the lived experience of those who live in the neighborhoods that comprise the Spokane University District. From there we work with our collaborators and the residents to identify the problem we’re collectively trying to solve, stated in plain language. Then we consider whether and to what degree technology can play a role in the resulting solution(s). Using an adaptive learning model, our team will learn what works and what needs modification by applying a solution, measuring the results, and evaluating next steps.

The use of a collaborative data platform for exploring, visualizing, and interacting with location-based open data enables innovation. Researchers, citizens, urban services providers, and entrepreneurs can use this data to develop and improve apps, inform urban planning, and, ultimately, make systems work better for citizens. Technology and data can inform our actions to address issues like resource scarcity, traffic, safety, and health, e.g.:

  • The ability to collect and analyze data on traffic and pedestrian patterns can influence the development of road improvements and walking paths as well as save lives.
  • The ability to collect before and after data can tell us how infrastructure improvements could affect the health of residents.
  • The ability to provide residents with data can drive improvements to public safety and mobility, as well as provide information that conserves energy use and other resources that impact the home budget.