Wi-Fi internet in downtown South Bend, neighborhood improvement part of South Bend's MetroLab Network projects


By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

The city of South Bend and University of Notre Dame are partnering up to join the nationwide MetroLab Network, a federal initiative that aims to connect cities with local universities to identify problems and come up with solutions that can be shared across the country.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto will join White House officials to introduce the MetroLab Network during a White House event at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, according to a news release from the city.

You can watch a live stream of the announcement online.

Read the full news release below:

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will join officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to introduce the MetroLab Network at a White House event at 2 pm today, Monday, September 14.

The MetroLab Network brings together local governments and university researchers to address urban needs. The City of South Bend, in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, is one of about two dozen participants. Other partnerships include the City of Pittsburgh with Carnegie Mellon University, the City of Chicago with the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, and the City of New York with New York University.

“South Bend is honored to be among a select group of cities asked to participate in White House Smart Cities Forum,” says Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “By joining forces, local governments and academic researchers can craft innovative solutions for cities across America.”

The MetroLab Network will enable university-city partnerships to share their projects and results, disseminating promising solutions to support widespread adoption across the country.

“We’re focused on piloting research projects in multiple areas to determine where the South Bend-Notre Dame partnership can have the greatest impact,” says Santiago Garces, chief innovation officer for the City of South Bend. “The MetroLab Network will allow solutions developed in South Bend and other cities to be shared in the most efficient way, providing data on what works best to address common urban issues.”

The vision for South Bend’s participation is laid out in a joint letter signed by Mayor Buttigieg and Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins. As part of the MetroLab Network, the City of South Bend and Notre Dame commit to work together on these projects over the course of the year:

  • Bowman Creek Project: In collaboration with Notre Dame’s College of Engineering, work will continue toward revitalizing this impaired tributary to the St. Joseph River, developing sensors, systems, and analyses that contribute to cleaner water and green infrastructure.
  • Neighborhood Report Card: Building on the City’s Vacant and Abandoned initiative, the Office of Innovation will work with the Notre Dame Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics to develop a methodology to classify neighborhoods based on 200 indicators to understand where they stand relative to city, state, and national benchmarks. The resulting “report card” will be used by the City to inform policy decisions, including the allocation of revitalization funds.
  • Community-Based Research Course: Along with Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, the City’s Innovation Office is hosting a seminar to introduce students to community-based research. The focus is on vacant land and property conditions to help identify, prioritize, plan, and measure the impact of neighborhood improvement projects.
  • Wireless Institute: Notre Dame’s Electrical Engineering faculty, in conjunction with the City’s Office of Innovation, are developing a wireless network to be tested in downtown South Bend.

“This South Bend-Notre Dame partnership represents an opportunity to use new technologies and ideas to deliver faster, better, less costly services for residents,” Mayor Buttigieg says. “The MetroLab Network will find new, real-world applications for research that already happens right in our area, putting us at the cutting edge of innovations to improve quality of life, services, and the economy. This is the future of what it means to be a university city.”

David Murphy, Notre Dame’s associate dean of entrepreneurship for the Colleges of Engineering and Science and director of the ESTEEM Graduate Program in Entrepreneurship, will be the University’s leader in the MetroLab Network partnership. Mayor Buttigieg appointed Santiago Garces, the chief innovation officer, to oversee the partnership for the City.

“Using the latest in technology and research processes, Notre Dame and the City of South Bend will develop, initiate, and evaluate solutions for the common good of our city and our greater community,” Murphy says.

South Bend’s Office of Innovation was established in 2014 as a centralized location for data analytics, process improvement, and technology optimization. The Office focuses on analytics and performance management, innovation delivery, and strategic partnerships.