The Urban Collaboratory partners with communities to solve on-the-ground challenges such as making drinking water safer, improving infrastructure, increasing access to healthy food, and much more. Collaboratory team members work directly with city stakeholders to identify their needs and develop solutions guided by smart city technology and novel urban design methods.
The Urban Collaboratory’s work starts in the city itself, and then connects to campus —not the other way around. Researchers work with local stakeholders to define and scope initiatives based on the pressing challenges facing urban centers. Smart city technologies are designed into scalable and robust urban solutions by Urban Collaboratory teams before being implemented at pilot-scale in cities.
Urban Collaboratory projects integrate information technologies and sensing in a comprehensive fashion to observe, manage, and control urban processes—all with the goal of improving residents’ health and overall quality of life. These initiatives create what are known as “smart and healthy cities.”
“It’s very intentional for us to get faculty members out of their labs and out of their classrooms to work directly in the community. That’s where we can have the most impact. Rather than pushing research agendas on client cities, this model embraces collaboration as a means of better understanding the challenges and needs that the community identifies.”
Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Urban Collaboratory Co-Director
While each city we serve is very unique, seven themes crop up again and again, no matter the location. Within these seven themes, our research aims to answer questions including: How do we pay for smart cities? How can cities enable social mobility? How can energy become clean and affordable? And much more.
These themes are the focus of our research, and all of our projects are designed to create solutions in at least one of these areas.
November 12, 2021
University of Michigan leads a collaboration to advance a renewable methane ecosystem. Cattle are supremely efficient at digesting tough materials, and a proposed energy-production system based, in part, on cow stomachs could generate 40% more power from municipal waste streams.Learn More
November 12, 2021
In areas where floods were once rare, now some neighborhoods are flooding repeatedly. Stormwater sewers are being overwhelmed by more intense storms. Most of the solutions call for big pipes and expensive construction. A group of researchers is instead helping cities use their current systems betterLearn More
December 8, 2020
U-M is working with the Great Lakes Water Authority to investigate the transition to a biological treatment process to not only remove phosphorus from wastewater but also to concentrate it into a form where it can be recovered and turned into recycled fertilizer.Learn More
October 12, 2020
Professor SangHyun Lee and team are placing inexpensive wearable sensors on construction workers to measure things such as anxiety, fatigue and stress on active construction sites.Learn More
October 12, 2020
At U-M CEE, we're building on our enduring legacy to tackle some of the most complex challenges facing our society and our planet. More than any other engineering discipline, we are in service to society advancing the common good. Check out our video to see why it's great to be CEE!Learn More
August 27, 2019
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell raised her voice Tuesday night when a constituent suggested she and other lawmakers aren’t approaching the issue of PFAS with enough urgency.Learn More
July 24, 2019
In the 1910s, Ford’s Model-T cars changed our conception of time and space. In the 1950s, the construction of interstate highway systems enabled travel by car over longer distances. And today we are facing a third wave of the transportation revolution with connected and automated vehicle technology.Learn More
November 13, 2018
Researchers from the University of Michigan Urban Collaboratory said Monday that helping Benton Harbor officials develop better transportation options for the city’s residents does more than get people where they want to go.Learn More
October 3, 2018
At the WEFTEC 2018 conference on October 1, 2018, a joint team from the University of Michigan and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) won the grand prize in the LIFT Intelligent Water Systems Challenge.Learn More