National Science Foundation Awards $1.4 Million Research Grant to UM and Virginia Tech Researchers for Future Smart, Sustainable and Connected Communities
MIAMI (September 16, 2016)–Dr. Wangda Zuo, an assistant professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering with the University of Miami’s College of Engineering, together with three professors at the Virginia Tech, has received a three-year, $1.4 million research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a proposal titled, “BIGDATA: Collaborative Research: IA: Big Data Analytics for Optimized Planning of Smart, Sustainable, and Connected Communities.”
Zuo, who runs the CoE’s Sustainable Building Systems Laboratory, will use this grant to collaborate with colleagues at Virginia Tech, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Anna Maria Historic Green Village, a zero-energy community in Florida. The grant is part of efforts to understand how best to transform cities into smart, connected and sustainable communities in the coming decade. The research aims to develop a new planning framework for a “Smart City,” revolutionizing transportation, communication and energy systems to seamlessly integrate sustainable components such as renewable sources, smart sensors and electric vehicles. The integration will ensure that tomorrow’s communities are truly sustainable and connected, exhibiting desirable qualities including zero energy (self-sufficient in their energy production), zero outages (communication links across the community are ultra-reliable and experience low interruption) and zero-congestion (traffic congestion is minimized across the community). A community that can achieve these qualities would be classified as a “zero community.”
The goal of this project is to develop a new planning framework for smart, connected and sustainable communities that meets these zero-energy, zero-outage, and zero-congestion goals by optimally deciding how, when and where to deploy or upgrade a community’s infrastructure. These decisions will be driven by massive volumes of community data, stemming from multiple sources that may include mobility, energy, traffic, communication demands and other socio-technological information. The idea is to gradually and organically transform a community into a fully sustainable and truly connected environment.
One key element of the research by Zuo and his colleagues is creation of a virtual testbed that can accurately reconstruct, simulate and evaluate a theoretical framework by leveraging real-world big data sets from Virginia Tech and Anna Maria Historic Green Village, as well as other sources, such as the U.S. Department of Energy. The holistic nature of this research is expected to catalyze the global deployment of sustainable and connected communities.
“This is a great collaborative project between top research universities, US DOE, and also a partnership with Anna Maria Historic Green Village that will allow us to collect, manipulate, test and report real-world data – allowing us to eventually reproduce [the results] elsewhere in the near future,” Zuo said. “These types of grants allow us to create, test, analyze and augment real-life models under different criteria in a zero community, which allows us to develop it even further.”
Previously, Zuo received the Emerging Professional Award from the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA)-USA Chapter. He is currently the Affiliate Director Representing USA on the IBPSA Board and the Research Committee Chair of IBPSA-USA.
– COE / Special to UM News