How Boston is embracing smart tech to make its roads safer, close the digital divide, and combat climate change

Partnerships with the many universities in the Boston area are essential in helping Boston reach its digital transformation goals. Esquivel said the city coordinates with local universities on research projects for students and to “answer some of the questions that we have.”

Universities bring “extra capacity” in the form of skills, expertise, and even labor to help cities design and execute research studies, Daniel O’Brien, director of the Boston Area Research Initiative, told Insider.

BARI is a multiuniversity partnership with the city that participates in urban research and public policy. The organization is housed at Northeastern University and each year hosts a conference to bring together researchers, policymakers, and community leaders.

“We aim to identify opportunities for data technology to reshape communities in the 21st century,” O’Brien said. “We’re thinking about how do we use these tools to enhance the things we really care about in society, including equity, justice, democracy, sustainability, and resilience.”