How America’s dying rust belt town can transform into “smart cities” of the future

Christina Cassotis, the Pittsburgh International Airport’s first female CEO, hopes that the city’s economic innovation can be felt from the moment visitors land. The airport has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to run an “innovations lab” that will test how automation and robotics can help the airport run “more efficiently, raise revenue, operate better, and improve the passenger experience,” Cassotis says.

“If we do it right, we will impact the industry from here,” she adds. “From here, there will be learning, there will be products, there will be processes that comes out of this [new] terminal and the way we work that will make the (airport) industry better.”

In Pittsburgh, CMU is the epicenter of innovation where the self-driving car was born in the 1980s. Since then, CMU has acted as a hub for collaborations and entrepreneurial activity, filling the city’s Oakland and Lawrenceville neighborhoods with coworking spaces, incubators, and accelerators.