On Tuesday, May 22, Georgia Tech Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation hosted a Smart Cities/Smart Installations meeting at the Weber Building’s ASDL CoVE conference facilities. The event brought together representatives from GT faculty, GTRI researchers, as well as participants from Robins Air Force Base, the City of Warner Robins, Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Flint Energies, and the Development Authority of Houston County to discuss how smart installations can benefit the base as well as the surrounding community and region.

After a warm welcome by John M. (JP) Pellegrino, Director-Research, GTRI Electro-Optical Systems Lab, the various participants introduced themselves to help everyone understand their context within the group. Gary Lee, Economic Developer for the City of Warner Robins, noted that advancements on the base force them to think in terms of long-term growth and that “the base makes the community better” calling them “our engine.” Next, a Georgia Tech panel discussed creating a smarter installation as there are several kinds of infrastructure “grids” on a base, such as energy, water, transportation, security, etc. that provide opportunities to improve the living and working environment, as well as the infrastructure that supports the daily operating missions, quality of life, and long-term sustainability of the base. Seeking synergistic relationships among these “grids” can enable a new “smart” management capability, leading to a more integrated and efficient use of time, money, and material resources.

Following the panel, Michael Balchanos, a Research Engineer with the Georgia Tech Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory, gave a Smart Campus demonstration to drive discussion on the potential of utilizing the capabilities and lessons learned by the campus example on improving energy efficiency and resiliency at the district level and help explore opportunities on how a military base community can benefit from similar cost efficiency concepts. The day ended with Dan Rhoades, Director of Strategy for 21st Century Partnerships and Debra Lam, Managing Director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech, leading a discussion on what is currently being done by the Department of Defense in this area as well as identifying potential end goals, strategies, and synergies for a research partnership between Georgia Tech, Robins Air Force Base, and the surrounding Warner-Robins community, focusing on ways to make the base community become a more operationally efficient, aesthetic, and sustainable place to live. As Dan Rhodes notes “the event, and Partnership we’ve developed, with Ga-Tech is an essential part of ensuring Middle Georgia is competitive, now and into the future. The ideas expressed at the event, and the partnerships developed will bear fruit in decreasing cost of operations at the base and in the local communities. We look forward to continuing to leverage the brilliant minds to these ends.”