From optimizing school bus routes using machine learning to testing new ways to gather data on air quality, Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has worked on a wide range of projects over the years. The organization’s aim is to look for ways that cutting-edge technology can benefit cities and their residents. Karen Lightman joined Metro21 in 2017 and is now executive director. The institute, established in 2015, serves as an intermediary between local government and nonprofit partners who have identified problems they want to solve and faculty researchers seeking to test their work in real-world settings.
Route Fifty talked with Lightman about the kinds of problems smart cities technology can address and how important equity is in those projects. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.