Link Lab Partners with the Center for Civic Innovation to Support Citizen Innovatorsabook@virginia.edu
University of Virginia School of Engineering professor Jonathan L. Goodall and Smart Cville founder Lucas Ames have been awarded a Public Interest Technology University Network Challenge grant to grow a fellows program in UVA’s own community of Charlottesville. Goodall holds a primary appointment in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment and is associate director of the Link Lab.
Goodall and Ames collaborated in the co-founding of the Charlottesville-based Center for Civic Innovation that, among other activities, sponsors the Community Fellows Program. The program supports community members who are civic innovators piloting ideas to improve social welfare. The network challenge grant will allow the center to hire a part-time director to formalize the fellows program, making it sustainable and replicable.
The Public Interest Technology University Network is a partnership of colleges and universities convened by New America, the Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. The network aims to support the evolving field of public interest technology, or the discipline of using data and technology to deliver better outcomes to the public.
UVA, through the Office of the Provost, is the only Virginia university that is a founding partner of the Public Interest Technology University Network, which announced its inaugural cohort of grantees in 2019. Goodall’s $44,000 grant is one of two awards UVA received from the network in 2020.
“When we announced the creation of the University Network, I was thrilled to work with these wonderful institutions of higher education to advance and expand the field of public interest technology towards a more just technological future,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation in a press release. “The projects supported through this most recent round of awards demonstrate just how innovative and driven the faculty, staff, and students within the University Network are in their commitment to ensuring technology is a force for public good.”
This award highlights a long-standing strength at UVA for multidisciplinary research aimed at creating 21st century technologies that broadly benefit society.
The Link Lab is UVA’s research incubator where over 40 faculty and over 200 graduate students from all areas of engineering develop and disseminate cyber-physical systems technologies in the areas of hardware for the Internet of Things, autonomous systems, smart and connected health and smart cities. As a part of its smart cities focus, the Link Lab works with community leaders and citizen advocacy groups.
“A large part of our work in designing cities powered by smart technologies includes working across traditional boundaries to serve society,” Goodall said. “We must engage leaders and members of the communities that are utilizing smart technologies to ensure the technology serves everyone equitably.”