Smart Cities

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Inspecting cracks in a reinforced concrete test structure.
Wireless sensor node developed by Yang Wang
James Tsai inspects pavement cracks to validate a system that automatically detects and measures cracks.
Cables connecting sensors to measuring equipment.

The amount of data generated around the world has exploded. It’s available in volume and quality unmatched in human history. And this is just the beginning: Some estimates say the digital universe — currently 3.2 zettabytes — will grow to 40 zettabytes in just half a decade. (A zettabyte is about a billion terabytes.)

Our civil and environmental engineers are working to harness the potential of all this data with novel data-harvesting techniques — from wireless sensors to unmanned aerial vehicles — while also creating new ways to process, analyze, visualize and use that information.

Take, for example, our urban infrastructure, which is among the most complex systems in the world. It mixes the various man-made systems (transportation, water, power and telecommunications, to name a few) with natural systems (oceans, air, forests and more) as well as the social systems that enable our societies to function (everything from schools and the economy to the justice system and healthcare). Modeling these “systems-of-systems” will require managing data at an unprecedented scale.

For some perspective, consider a 2014 survey from Forrester Research that asked businesses how much of the data they possess they’re actually using. Most companies estimated just 12 percent. The remaining 88 percent could contain vital insights. Or it could be noise. Without the right tools to use it, data itself means little.

That’s why CEEatGT researchers are imaging groundbreaking means of using the data we have — and the new forms of data we’re inventing — for the betterment of humanity and the environment:

We are monitoring how our transportation systems perform and how people use them so we can make better decisions about how we get from place to place and what infrastructure we’ll need to do it.

We are effectively modeling future scenarios for city and regional infrastructure development to determine how and where we should grow as well as what will be required to meet the needs of future generations.

We are instrumenting our interconnected infrastructure systems so we can assess their health, correct weaknesses, catch problems before they happen and prioritize our limited repair and replacement expenditures.

And we are capturing the interdependencies between systems to predict cascading failures and implement mitigation measures to reduce losses during disruptions and facilitate community recovery.


CAREER: Decentralized Monitoring and Control for Large-Scale Smart Structures with Wireless and Mobile Sensor Networks - The research objective of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award is to discover a series of decentralized substructure-based monitoring and control approaches using wireless and mobile sensor networks.
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator: Yang Wang
Cycle Atlanta – Cycle Atlanta is an application for iPhone and Android that collects data about cyclists’ routes, origins, destinations, demographics and features of note in the city of Atlanta. This allows transportation planners to see which roads are avoided and which are popular and subsequently use this information to inform decisions about where infrastructure is needed to create bike-friendly routes through the city.
Sponsors: Georgia Tech GVU Center, Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology, City of Atlanta, Southeastern Transportation Research Innovation Development and Education Center, Georgia Department of Transportation
Principal Investigator: Kari Watkins
Field Validation of a Drive-By Bridge Inspection System with Wireless BWIM + NDE Devices - In this project, a wireless sensor network will be investigated for installation on a heavy truck to record the dynamic response of the truck as it crosses a bridge mounted with BWIM+NDE devices. The sensors installed in the vehicle include accelerometers to measure vibration and gyroscopes to capture vehicle pitching motion. As the instrumented vehicle approaches the bridge, BWIM+NDE system wirelessly establishes communication with wireless sensors on the vehicle to synchronize time and initiate data collection. As the truck crosses the bridge, the wireless sensors on the truck transmit vibration and pitching data to the wireless BWIM+NDE server for automatic integration with bridge response data. Experimental validation of the proposed wireless system will be performed both in the lab and in the field.
Sponsor: National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management, Georgia Department of Transportation, Alabama Department of Transportation
Principal Investigator: Yang Wang, Laurence Jacobs
Low-Cost Self-Powered Wireless Nanosensors for Real-Time Structural Integrity Monitoring of Steel BridgesWith steel bridges representing approximately 34 percent of the nearly 600,000 highway bridges in the United States, continual monitoring and early detection of deterioration in these structures is vital to prevent expensive repairs or catastrophic failures. Developing a solution for autonomous crack monitoring is the goal of
Sponsor: Federal Highway Administration
Principal Investigator: Yang Wang
Multi-Physics Coupled Wireless Antenna Sensor for Structural Health Monitoring - An innovative, battery-free wireless antenna sensor to achieve high-fidelity strain/crack sensing. Highly inter-disciplinary multi-physics modeling, simulation, and experiments with coupled electromagnetics and mechanics.
Sponsor: Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Research Program
Principal Investigator: Yang Wang
Multi-Scale Modeling Framework for the Assessment and Control of Resilient Interdependent Critical Infrastructure Systems – This project will create a novel modeling framework to assess and control interdependent critical infrastructure systems (ICIs). Infrastructure systems are critical to the functioning of our society, and the services they deliver form the backbone of the health, safety, and security of our nation. These systems are complex, comprised of many interdependent components. Further, these systems are interdependent, with the performance of one system dependent on the performance of one or more of the others. This leaves ICIs vulnerable to a variety of hazards, both natural and manmade. This project will study how to improve the resilience of these systems, with the recognition that achieving resilience will be a shared responsibility among stakeholders.
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator: Iris Tien
OneBusAway – OneBusAway is an open-source coded, real-time transit information system for riders now available in almost a dozen cities. The primary use is to provide next vehicle countdown information via smartphone applications, a website, phone number, and SMS interface for text messaging. The underlying goal is to reduce the burden of using public transportation and thereby increase rider satisfaction and increase transit ridership.
Sponsors: Georgia Tech GVU Center, Georgia Tech Institute for People and Technology, National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management, Woodruff Foundation, Sound Transit
Principal Investigator: Kari Watkins
Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Processes and Systems: Participatory Modeling of Complex Urban Infrastructure Systems (Model Urban SysTems) - This project is designed to develop the theory that infrastructure systems, with their many interdependencies and complex adaptations, have many similarities to ecological systems. Insights will be useful in the future development of tools and methods for design and evaluation of urban infrastructure systems and their resilience under stresses such as climate change, urban growth patterns and extreme weather events.
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator: John Crittenden
SRN: Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Health and Livable Cities - This National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network is working to reimagine infrastructure — energy grids, road networks, green spaces, and food and water systems — to create cities that are highly functional, that promote the health of residents and the environment, and that have the intangible “vibe” that makes them desirable places to live and work.
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Co-Principal Investigator: Armistead Russell


Adjo A. Amekudzi-Kennedy
Associate Chair for Global Engineering Leadership and Entrepreneurship,...
Baabak Ashuri
Joe F. Bozeman III
Assistant Professor
Laurie A. Garrow
Aris P. Georgakakos
Professor and Director, Georgia Water Resources Institute
Randall L. Guensler
Professor & Group Coordinator
Angshuman Guin
Senior Research Engineer
Michael P. Hunter
Laurence J. Jacobs
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor
Kimberly E. Kurtis
Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Scholarship & Professor
Patricia L. Mokhtarian
Clifford and William Greene, Jr. Professor
Catherine Ross
Adjunct Professor
Armistead G. Russell
Howard T. Tellepsen Chair, Regents Professor & Group Coordinator
John E. Taylor
Associate Chair for Graduate Programs and Research Innovation &...
Iris Tien
Williams Family Associate Professor
Yi-Chang James Tsai
Yang Wang
Professor & Group Coordinator; Adjunct Professor (ECE)
Jingfeng Wang
Associate Professor
Kari E. Watkins
Frederick Law Olmsted Associate Professor