The Link Lab, the University of Virginia’s interdisciplinary cyber-physical systems research center at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the local nonprofit Smart Cville have announced the launch of a free grassroots Internet of Things network in Charlottesville. Smart Cville promotes the use of technology and data to help communities find innovative solutions by facilitating the exchange of ideas between civic institutions and citizens.

Link Lab and Smart Cville purchased and deployed technology from The Things Network to provide a set of open tools and a global network to build Internet of Things applications. To raise awareness for the network and inspire innovation, Smart Cville is hosting an Internet of Things-focused Civic Innovation Day on June 1. Participants in the 2019 Civic Innovation Day may form teams in advance or at the event to develop solutions related to environmental sustainability, multimodal transportation and other community projects based on physical devices and objects that are connected to the internet.

“Anyone can start building on this network today. It’s a network that others can contribute to by purchasing and hosting their own gateways. This is not something Smart Cville or the Link Lab owns or manages. It’s truly a grassroots community resource. I expect to see some astounding applications built,” said Lucas Ames, founder of Smart Cville.

The Things Network is a grassroots organization that first developed a free Internet of Things network for innovators, businesses and citizens to use in Amsterdam. The network is powered by “gateways” hosted by businesses, organizations and citizens. There are currently almost 7,000 Things Network gateways across the world, serving millions of people. The network is free to build applications on and therefore fosters smart city innovation from a diverse set of entrepreneurs, makers, citizens and researchers.

“We are thrilled to be working with Smart Cville on creating a community wireless network. Smart cities is one of three research themes in the Link Lab and we understand how critical it is to have strong partnerships with community stakeholders in order to be leaders in this area of research. By working directly with community organizations in Charlottesville, we hope to engage all community members in our research, especially K-12 students to encourage them to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and math fields,” said Jonathan Goodall, associate director of the Link Lab.

Charlottesville currently hosts five to 10 active gateways, covering most of the city. In addition to Smart Cville’s and UVA’s gateways, community-based organizations such as Computers4Kids and Charlottesville High School are also running them.

“We are excited to be partnering with Smart Cville and the LinkLab at UVA,” said Chris Florez, program director of Computers4Kids. “Hosting a gateway to the Things Network at C4K helps supports data sharing and research within our community. Ensuring our local sixth- through twelfth-grade youth understand the value of data and research is critical in helping them be informed citizens. Plus, it provides them inspiration for future science, technology, engineering and math occupations. We’re honored to be part of this meaningful grassroots initiative.”

The Link Lab-Smart Cville collaboration on the Internet of Things network has been garnering media attention. Recent stories have appeared on NBC29 and the technology-oriented online publication StateScoop.

NOTE: This news release was edited and republished with the author's permission.