The partnership between local governments and universities allows members to research, develop and deploy solutions to address challenges faced by urban areas.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 30, 2016) – As Zika and other climate change-related diseases continue to be the focus of local departments of health, researchers and academics at the University of Miami maintain their focus on efforts to work collaboratively with local institutions as one of the newest members of the MetroLab Network.
As part of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Consortium, UM will partner with Miami-Dade County and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, along with university partners Florida International University and Miami Dade College.
“The MetroLab Network partnership will provide the University with a stronger relationship to face the challenges affecting our cities,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the UM College of Engineering. “This is the value of the interaction between cities and universities, to solve the challenging new issues of the 21st century.”
The consortium’s projects will focus on adaption to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, response to climate-related diseases, including Zika, and access to transportation and affordable housing.
“The MetroLab Network partnership is a great opportunity for us to establish robust collaborations that will ensure that the best available science is informing important community decisions in how we adapt to environmental challenges associated with climate change,” said Ben Kirtman, professor of atmospheric sciences at the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science and director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies.
In a statement to the community, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez stressed that the county will focus on three priorities, one of which is to develop specific programs and protocols to eliminate and address the impact of climate change-related diseases such as Zika.
“Miami-Dade County, Miami, and Miami Beach already have existing relationships and ongoing projects with our local universities, but through our participation in MetroLab Network, we will benefit from increased coordination between the three members of Greater Miami and the Beaches, the three local universities, and the members of MetroLab Network,” said Giménez.
Mario Stevenson, professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and director of the Institute of AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Miller School of Medicine, will meet with the consortium’s city partners in early October to discuss the Zika project.
“Research universities have the physical and human resources to undertake the research and development of innovative projects at a lower cost. A partnership through the MetroLab Network allows us, as the University, to outline the purpose and process of collaborative research and provide solutions to the problems faced by our community,” he said.
The consortium also will work to identify technology-enabled solutions to another challenge of urbanization: affordable housing and transportation.
“Affordable housing is one of the most significant challenges facing Miami today, with over half of our households paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing,” said Robin Bachin, UM assistant provost for Civic and Community Engagement. “Already, UM’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement has partnered with FIU’s Metropolitan Center to create the South Florida Housing Studies Consortium, whose goal is to raise awareness about the challenges facing our housing market and craft solutions through policy and practice to overcome them.”
Bachin will continue to work closely with FIU and the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Housing and Community Development to enhance the relationships between the universities and local governments in order to ensure the best solutions for housing affordability in South Florida.
The MetroLab network now includes 40 partnerships between local governments and their university partners, focused on incorporating data, analytics, and innovation into local government programs. Members of the network research, develop, and deploy technologies and policy approaches to address challenges facing the nation’s urban areas. MetroLab Network was launched by 21 founding city-university pairings in September 2015 at the White House as part of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative.
In addition to Greater Miami and the Beaches, UM, FIU, and Miami Dade College, new MetroLab Network members announced September 26 are:
City of Los Angeles – California State University, Los Angeles
City of San Francisco – University of California, Berkeley
University of Pittsburgh (joining existing City of Pittsburgh – Carnegie Mellon Partnership)
For more information on MetroLab Network visit www.metrolabnetwork.org.