Univ. of South Florida teams with city of Tampa to study smart transportation

April 19, 2018

A memorandum of understanding opens the door for the city and university to work together on smart transportation projects

A new agreement between the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research and the city of Tampa will allows this new partnership to explore smart transportation projects in central Florida. Tampa Bay officials signed a memorandum of understanding with USF as an initial step toward collaboration on smart city solutions. said. 

Vik Bhide, chief traffic management engineer and manager of the Smart Cities Program in Tampa Bay, was quoted as saying: “Central to our thought process on smart cities is the coming together of public agencies like cities, academia such as universities, and the private sector. That’s because of the unique way some of these solutions get rolled out. They’re very technology heavy, so it’s important to have the evaluation piece, as well as the private sector—who keeps up with the technology—involved.”

The MOU comes after more than two years of work on the part of the city and university to form an agreement to investigate smart cities technologies. The partnership offers the city a mechanism for elevating conversations around smart transportation projects it’s already involved with “to the national level,” said Bhide. The ultimate goal, said Bhide, is for USF and Tampa to make the city and university partnership become part of MetroLab Network,” a network of more than 35 city-university partnerships that use data and analytics to solve urban problems.

Tampa is creating a mini-traffic management center on the university campus that will offer real-world training. Tampa’s Connected Vehicle Pilot has outfitted some 1,600 private vehicles with devices that measure speed, braking distance and other driving data to determine, for example, when a motorist should brake when coming to the end of a freeway off-ramp, given the car’s speed and number of cars ahead. The pilot, which is being led by the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, launched last fall, and is now recruiting motorists to participate, offering incentives such as a 30% rebate on expressway tolls, up to $550. The project requires special equipment installed on private vehicles. A partnership with the Hillsborough Community College has students installing the connected devices.