Episode 5: Smart Cities – Picking Up Where We Left Off


Cities around the world increasingly use data and technology to improve urban infrastructure and to enhance the quality of life for their residents. The so-called ‘smart’ approach may be transformative in addressing systemic problems and improving the lives of citizens; but can smart cities be more equitable, fair, inclusive and sustainable? The Hollings Center held a dialogue meeting in 2020 entitled, ‘Smart and Sustainable Cities’ to address this question.

In the year since the dialogue, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated both the potential positive outcomes of building “smart” as well as the concerns about unfettered application of data and technology. So, to pick up where that dialogue left off, Michael Carroll recently spoke with Jane Macfarlane about smart transportation research, policy and trends.


Jane Macfarlane is the Director of the Smart Cities Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley and an affiliate scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Macfarlane has over 30 years of experience in high performance computing, data analytics and geospatial mapping. For a large part of her career, shehas been responsible for directing industry research.  Including: Chief Scientist and Head of Research for HERE – a leader in geospatial mapping and Director of Advanced Technology Planning for OnStar at General Motors – the first at-scale, telematics solution in the US. Her research focus is on semantic analytics, big data analytics and visualization, contextualization of data streams and spatially distributed computing. Her thesis work focused on Dynamic Systems Understanding using an assumption-based truth maintenance system and symbolic analysis. She has authored over 26 patents, primarily in the domain of geospatial data analytics. She holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Currently she is leading a DOE National Laboratory effort across three national labs focused on the use of High Performance Computing and big data in transportation systems.


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