D-STOP Symposium 2016 Explores Future of Smart Cities

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Data-Supported Transportation Operations and Planning Center (D-STOP) from UT Austin met with representatives from local and state government, academia and industry in early April at a symposium designed to collaborate on the future of Smart Cities. The day-long event explored smart transportation systems, collaborative ecosystems, infrastructure-based technology, regional planning and analytics and connected vehicles through a series of panels featuring experts in the field.

WNCG takes an inside look into highlights from the day’s event. For a complete slideshow, click the link at the bottom of the page.

”D-STOP’s mission is to promote integration between wireless sensor networking, communications technology and transportation systems. We implement this mission through research, education, workforce development, technology transfer and the annual D-STOP Symposium.”

-Chandra Bhat, Director, Center for Transportation Research (CTR) at UT Austin




”There are two myths surrounding automated vehicles. The first comes from the term ‘autonomous.’ Autonomous means the car is driving itself independently, not talking to anyone or anything else, and that’s not  the same as automation. Automated vehicles can’t operate independently of everything else--you need  communication. Communication allows us to see through buildings, determine if another vehicle is coming  around a blind corner, and helps us make safer decisions.

The second myth is that infrastructure has no value. The future of high speed automation would be very difficult without infrastructure. Infrastructure is like an air traffic control tower, it looks down and monitors the positions of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists that aren’t able to communicate and reports that information back to automated cars. Smart city planning needs infrastructure to enable higher levels of automation and connection.”

- Robert W. Heath, Cullen Trust Endowed Professor, WNCG at UT Austin


”For aircraft, flying through inclement weather is routine. They expect to land every time. We should expect that for automated vehicles too. There are significant benefits to increasing the density of network infrastructure and we’re starting here in Austin.

Austin will be the first city in the world to have a high density reference network for high precision Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for the mass market. We partnered with TXDOT to put reference stations on their buildings that are solar powered, self-contained and talk over wireless infrastructure. Our reference station costs about $49,000 less than a normal reference station."

- Todd Humphreys, Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering, WNCG at UT Austin

”You’ve heard about the Internet of Things but I want to talk about the Internet of Moving Things, where buses, cars, people, pets and every other object moving around talks to each other. It sounds fancy and futuristic, and requires full duplex mobile meshing, which we can do robustly, reliably and in wifi. Radios are limited. They can only transmit or receive at any given time. But we can build a radio that can listen and talk at the same time. With this capacity, we could enable many applications and platforms needed to connect with and detect what’s around you much faster.”

- Sriram Vishwanath, Professor, WNCG at UT Austin

”How we can make traffic move faster is a problem facing US cities. Do we really need red lights? Can we make traffic move faster without lights? About four billion people across the world don’t have internet access now. Could cars play a role in providing connectivity to people who don’t have it? Universities ask very exciting questions about research, but if we want to deploy these ideas we need help from government as well. These challenges require university research, the car industry to work closely with the seller industry, and collaboration with governmental and standardization bodies.”

- Gaurav Bansal, Senior Researcher, Toyota InfoTechnology Center

”One child year is seven dog years. One human year is 15 technology years. That’s how fast things are changing. Relying on technology alone is risky, it does not come with trust attached. But people do. With technology and how we are embracing technology rapidly changing, we’re trying to keep up and use it effectively. But we have to have people we know who can implement that technology well.”

- Mike Walton, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, CTR at UT Austin




”The goal of a smart city is to improve service delivery for people and use technology to improve lives. For cities, transportation issues are paramount. We have a nexus between transportation, housing and health. If you don't have transportation or mobility, you can’t get to a doctor. Without transportation, how can people get to their jobs? How do we move so we don’t have a gridlock? 

People look to cities to make innovation and collaboration happen, since they deliver service to the public sector. This is where we see new technologies interact with changes in our political realm.

- Sherri Greenberg, Clinical Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT Austin

”In transportation, a city is not just made up of a city, but of a whole network of people. It’s really a regional effort. One of the biggest collaboration efforts Austin has seen is the Smart Cities collaboration. Over 100 people are working on this at different levels of engagement. We have a common goal and purpose and our most important service to deliver to the public is safety.”

- Jim Dale, Division Manager, Arterial Management Division, City of Austin


”Collaboration is important. The factors of how federal, state, the private sector and others work together are complex. Austin has a great opportunity to lead because there’s such a sector of personas. You have east versus west and business versus education, which are important incubations for the private sector. Many cities don’t have that.

What East Austin wants is very different than what downtown folks want, and what commuters and students want. Experience for consumers is important and what we care about is daily life. Public and private sector collaboration is critical for the services we provide.”

- J.D. Stanley, Global Director, Strategy and Integrated Solutions, Cisco (WNCG Industrial Affiliate)


D-STOP is a TIER 1 US Department of Transportation University Transportation Center. This elite research group represents a collaborative initiative between researchers at CTR and WNCG at UT Austin. For more on D-STOP, visit: ctr.utexas.edu/research/d-stop/

For a complete slideshow of the day’s events, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskxLVkmG