CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: A
Cyber-Physical Infrastructure for the ``Smart City''
Science Foundation (NSF), Division for Computer and
Number: NSF CNS-1239021.
Bestavros, and Assaf Kfoury at Boston University (with R.
Gao at the Univ. of Conencticut and W.
Gong at UMass Amherst).
Intellectual Merit. Our vision of a "smart city" encompasses
well-managed and safer processes such as traffic control, efficient
services such as parking, and new, innovative urban activities such as
recharging electric vehicles. To enable these capabilities, we will
study the components needed to establish a Cyber-Physical
Infrastructure (CPI) for urban environments and address fundamental
problems that involve data collection, dynamic resource allocation,
real-time decision making, safety, and security, with emphasis on a
balanced understanding of both "physical" and "cyber"
components. Accordingly, our research is organized along two main
directions capitalizing on the complementary PI skills and their
synergistic potential: (i) Sensing and data acquisition using a
new mobile sensor network paradigm designed for urban environments and
consisting of both stationary and mobile nodes. This is the first step
in enabling the CPI, so that data are reliably and securely communicated
to control points and control actions are transmitted back to physical
CPI components to "close the loop." (ii) Decision Support for the
"Smart City", the next step in which formal verification and
certification methods will be developed to capture and manipulate
physical properties of the CPI, while innovative dynamic optimization
techniques will be used for decision making and resource allocation
purposes. This work will bring together and build upon the
methodological advances the PIs have made spanning: optimization under
uncertainty, computer simulation, discrete event and hybrid systems,
cooperative control and games, stochastic supply chain logistics, system
security, and formal verification and safety.
Target Applications. We will develop three specific "smart city"
applications to demonstrate the feasibility of our vision and enhance
our understanding of the CPI capabilities and limitations: (i) A "Smart
Parking" system where parking spaces are optimally assigned and reserved
for vehicles. Part of this system is already under development by the
PIs at Boston U. (ii) A system for coordinating electric vehicles with
battery charging stations that interface with a "smart grid." (iii)
Vehicular traffic regulation through dynamic traffic light control to
achieve traditional as well as novel city-wide performance
objectives. These applications are intended to demonstrate how to "close
the loop" by using a CPI to not only provide information, but also make
optimal decisions and implement them through proper actuation
Test Beds. An integral part of the proposed project is the
application of our ideas and methods to a living laboratory in the
Boston Back Bay neighborhood, an ongoing collaborative effort, termed
Sustainable Neighborhood Laboratory (SNL), between Boston U.,
the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, commercial groups in the
area, the City of Boston, and the local electricity distribution
utility. This unique research and learning environment considers all
aspects of the neighborhood as an "ecosystem" that offers insights into
creating sustainable urban environments that support growth and improved
quality of life while reducing environmental risks. At Boston U., a
parking facility is already partially instrumented and will be fully
equipped to implement our proposed "Smart Parking" system, which will
also be deployed on-street in collaboration with the SNL and the City of
Broader Impact. Our "smart city" focus has the potential of
revolutionizing the way we view the city in the future: from a passive
living and working environment to a highly dynamic one with new ways to
deal with transportation, energy, and safety. By teaming up with the
stakeholders in the Boston SNL, we expect to also establish new
collaborative models between universities and urban groups for
cutting-edge research embedded in the deployment of an exciting
unprecedented technological, economic, and sociological development. Our
research scope clearly transcends the cyber-physical "smart city" realm
and advances the state-of-the-art in all domains that rely on data
collection using sensor networks, decision making in highly dynamic and
uncertain environments, safety, and security. On the educational front,
our plans include new courses, training graduate students, engaging
undergraduate students, creating interactive educational software and
demos, establishing summer internships, and reaching out to high school
students through programs the PIs are involved with. Dissemination plans
include capitalizing on the BU SNL and the "Sensor Network Consortium"
established by the PIs, and organizing an academic workshop on the
"smart city" and its ramifications.