Media Releases

Students worldwide to collaborate on projects to improve cities, transportation and health care

May 5, 2011

TORONTO, ON — Fac­ul­ty of Infor­ma­tion Pro­fes­sor Kel­ly Lyons is one of the two Cana­di­an award recip­i­ents of the pres­ti­gious IBM Smarter Plan­et Fac­ul­ty Inno­va­tion Award worth $10,000. Prof. Lyons says she is thrilled that the Fac­ul­ty of Infor­ma­tion, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, is home to such an hon­our, and that her inno­v­a­tive approach to teach­ing and research is being rec­og­nized.

Prof. Lyons is one of 50 pro­fes­sors from 40 uni­ver­si­ties in 14 coun­tries who have been award­ed the Smarter Plan­et Fac­ul­ty Inno­va­tion grant from IBM (NYSE: IBM).

Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents around the world are work­ing on new projects, includ­ing devel­op­ing smarter urban and trans­porta­tion solu­tions and improved health care sys­tems, with help from IBM.

The com­pa­ny cre­at­ed and award­ed the grants to help uni­ver­si­ties devel­op inno­v­a­tive new cur­ric­u­la that address the glob­al chal­lenges of trans­porta­tion, health care, water, ener­gy and oth­er sys­tems. The new cours­es will pre­pare stu­dents for future lead­er­ship in a vari­ety of indus­tries by expos­ing them to Wat­son-like tech­nolo­gies in the class­room, spark­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion and inno­va­tion.

See Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Pro­fes­sor Kel­ly Lyons dis­cuss her new infor­ma­tion ser­vices and design course that focus­es stu­dent atten­tion on design­ing ener­gy effi­cient infor­ma­tion archi­tec­tures that use and replen­ish under-uti­lized envi­ron­men­tal resources and bal­ance the needs of cit­i­zens with envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty:

As pop­u­la­tion rates rise, civic lead­ers face an unprece­dent­ed series of chal­lenges, includ­ing mas­sive urban­iza­tion, stressed infra­struc­ture and eco­nom­ic cri­sis. The project from Pace Uni­ver­si­ty, for exam­ple, “Across Cities for Cities,” involves teams of stu­dents in New York work­ing with stu­dents from Phnom Penh, Cam­bo­dia, Del­hi, India, and Dakar, Sene­gal, devel­op­ing mobile and smart­phone appli­ca­tions for trans­porta­tion, health care and edu­ca­tion, with the solu­tions being imple­ment­ed in each city for eval­u­a­tion and improve­ment. These solu­tions will tack­le prob­lems such as iden­ti­fy­ing the clos­est pub­lic trans­porta­tion to a spe­cif­ic des­ti­na­tion or find­ing the near­est emer­gency room.

Each year Amer­i­can dri­vers waste an esti­mat­ed 3.7 bil­lion hours, the equiv­a­lent of five days each, sit­ting in traf­fic burn­ing 2.3 bil­lion gal­lons of fuel. Stu­dents at the Uni­ver­si­ty at Buf­fa­lo are ana­lyz­ing U.S. bor­der con­trol data to learn how advanced tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions may help improve the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the trans­porta­tion sys­tem. The project focus­es on local high­way traf­fic and reduc­ing con­ges­tion around the three U.S. and Cana­di­an bor­der cross­ings in the region.

City infra­struc­tures that deliv­er vital ser­vices can now rely on a wealth of new infor­ma­tion and tech­nolo­gies enabling them to sense and respond intel­li­gent­ly to the needs of their grow­ing pop­u­la­tions. RMIT Uni­ver­si­ty in Aus­tralia is help­ing stu­dents explore how advanced tech­nol­o­gy and sen­sors can play a role in build­ing a smarter, inter­con­nect­ed city. Work­ing togeth­er with stu­dents in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet­nam, stu­dents are using local real-world exam­ples to eval­u­ate new urban plan­ning and devel­op­ment options for vital city ser­vices such as trans­porta­tion, health­care and ener­gy.

“We need to focus on devel­op­ing more advanced skills so that stu­dents around the world are equipped to tack­le real-world issues when they enter the work­force,” said Jim Corgel, gen­er­al man­ag­er of IBM Aca­d­e­m­ic and Devel­op­er Rela­tions. “The work of these 50 award recip­i­ents should help change the face of edu­ca­tion by enabling stu­dents to work on press­ing issues fac­ing cities today – and at the same time pre­pare them for lead­er­ship in indus­tries like health­care and trans­porta­tion.”

These new class­es are being taught in the 2011–2012 school year.  Find out more about the award win­ners.

The fall 2011 Smarter Plan­et Fac­ul­ty Inno­va­tion awards are now open for sub­mis­sions of pro­posed cur­ric­u­la to sup­port Smarter Com­merce, Smarter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Smarter Ener­gy. More infor­ma­tion on the Smarter Plan­et Fac­ul­ty Inno­va­tion awards is avail­able.

Videos of select award win­ners are avail­able.Video of high­light­ed stu­dent projects with Smarter Plan­et Fac­ul­ty Inno­va­tion Award win­ners.

More infor­ma­tion on IBM’s uni­ver­si­ty ini­tia­tives.


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Kath­leen O’Brien
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Devel­op­ment Offi­cer
Fac­ul­ty of Infor­ma­tion (known as the iSchool)
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Twit­ter: @ischool_toronto