Newswise – Municipalities across the world are looking to leverage technology and innovation to meet the needs and expectations of citizens and residents. The Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) is a collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Maryland, to plan and implement a smart and connected community concept within Howard County’s Gateway District.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in April includes provisions for autonomous systems, clean and sustainable energy, population health and cybersecurity concepts that support the advancement of the county’s objectives and APL’s research goals.
“We are excited to work together with Howard County on its vision for the future,” said APL Director Ralph Semmel. “The county’s goals for intelligent technologies, technology ecosystems, sustainability and equity will bolster the new Innovation District and keep Howard County among the top places in our nation to live and work.”
APL and HCEDA plan to use the Columbia Gateway Innovation District as its proving ground for their smart city concepts. In its updated HoCo by Design – the document that guides land use, growth and development decisions – Howard County has located the more than 900-acre business park that will incorporate sustainable development and smart-community practices.
“The goal of Gateway’s future Innovation District will be to achieve the highest levels of sustainability and affordability,” said Larry Twele, CEO of HCEDA. “The APL-HCEDA MOU provides a new and exciting opportunity for collaboration in research, planning and commercialization for the district.”
In April, the stakeholders held the first “knowledge exchange” under the MOU to establish the economic growth, equity and sustainability objectives.
“Cara LaPointe, APL program manager and co-director of the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Assured Autonomy, noted Cara LaPointe , a national center of excellence for artificial intelligence (AI) and smart autonomous systems.
APL is a leading project to help Howard County identify stakeholders and engage them from the outset. Stakeholders attending the knowledge exchange included several developers in the county, including the Howard Hughes Corporation, the Abrams Development Group and Corporate Office Properties Trust. Administrator Christine Nizer from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration attended and spoke about the state’s efforts in embracing connected and automated vehicle technology.
“Because smart cities can involve thousands of autonomous operating systems in concert in populated areas, it is challenging to create smart and connected communities in a way that is both guaranteed and equitable,” said Gregory Falco, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Civil and Systems Engineering and the Institute for Assured Autonomy, where he holds the appointment at APL.
Falco, who has been on the forefront of smart-city security and safety in both industry and academia for the past decade,
APL and HCEDA plan to work with the county and other key stakeholders to address a variety of possibilities, such as:
- The Gateway has more efficient and capable energy resources;
- Determining how emerging autonomous transportation systems can be;
- Devising standards and controls that support members of the community as intelligent systems become more prevalent; and
- Learning from the pandemic to improve health awareness and access.
“We are entering a new era of transformation in which residents and their surrounding environments are connected by intelligent technologies,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “This transformation will improve well-being and prosperity for all. With our colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, we will explore ways to improve safety, mobility and sustainability in the county through innovation. ”
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.