U of Virginia launches community-driven Center for Civic Innovation

The Charlottesville-based University of Virginia opened a new center dedicated to advancing innovative, data-driven solutions to community issues such as public health and infrastructure.

The Center for Civic Innovation will engage UVA faculty and students, local government officials and residents of the Charlottesville area to address those and other issues. It is financed and operated by local nonprofit Smart Cville, which advances the use of technology to improve city residents' lives. The center was launched in partnership with the university's schools of engineering, architecture, data science and continuing and professional studies.

The engineering department's Link Lab will take a leading role in the center's work. The multidisciplinary lab focuses specifically on the areas of smart health, smart cities and autonomous systems. Architecture school researchers, meanwhile, are planning projects studying access to information and resources across Virginia and how data-infused urban infrastructure can drive civic engagement.

"Our ultimate goal is to be a model for how siloed groups can come together and work toward solutions to common problems," said Lucas Ames, founder of Smart Cville, adding, "Technology and data are critical enablers of community engagement. With access to data, the community can make the system better."

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