U of A, City of Edmonton join international network of city-university partnerships

First partnership within Canada will collaborate on projects involving sustainable buildings, elder care and connected vehicle networks.

The University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton will collaborate on three projects using the collective might of an international network of city-university partnerships dedicated to finding innovative solutions to the challenges facing today's urban centres.

The MetroLab Network was launched as a result of the White House Smart Cities Initiative in 2015 as a way to share information, best practices and solutions to common challenges faced by cities around the world. Under the network, universities and the cities in which they reside enter a formal partnership in which the university is the city's R&D department and the city is the test bed.

The City of Edmonton and U of A partnership is Canada's first such alliance to join the network, which now includes more than 40 members.

The projects the city and the university will work on will investigate ways to make the city's buildings more sustainable, take better care of the elderly and connect vehicles.

By installing sensors in city-owned real estate, the Advancing Towards Smart Buildings project will collect data with a view to improve operations while reducing energy needs and maintenance costs.

The second project, the Automated Nursing Agent, will use AI technology to assist independent Edmonton seniors with tasks such as managing phone calls and taking their medication. The application will be able to ask and answer questions while remotely reporting the patient's state of health to caregivers.

The partnership will also expand the Alberta Cooperative Transportation Infrastructure and Vehicular Environment project by extending connected vehicle infrastructure coverage along the Anthony Henday Drive test bed. The project will help governments understand how connected vehicle technology can best be applied to Canadian roads while providing the framework for harmonized regulations so the new technologies can be implemented throughout North America.

"The City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta have an extensive history of working together for the benefit of our city and region," said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. "It's a great opportunity to join a network of researchers to help create technological advancements that contribute to community and personal wellness."

U of A president David Turpin said the partnership gives the university and the city the opportunity to bring their expertise to the world.

"Starting with our combined research efforts in areas related to smart city infrastructure, transportation and elder care, we will develop ideas, technologies and innovations that transform not only our city, but cities around the world," he said.

Glasgow, Liverpool and Bristol were also named new members of the MetroLab Network today.