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Higher Education Technology Making Cities Safer

Flint, Michigan frequently ranks among the top ten most dangerous cities in the U.S. General Motors’ exodus from Flint in the 1980s left an economic hole in the center of town that fractured the city for decades. Recently, education has taken the place of manufacturing in Flint, now hosting satellite campuses and headquarters of seven different universities and colleges. New technology research through these universities is forging a brighter future for Flint and piloting the city toward uncharted horizons.

Under guidance from Kettering University, formerly General Motors Institute, Flint joined the US Ignite program in 2012. US Ignite includes 19 communities across the nation exploring next-generation technologies and sharing insights to develop transformative new applications in education, energy, healthcare, public safety, transportation, and manufacturing. A $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to US Ignite will help these new applications grow. Flint's public safety measures are also bolstered by a $1 million grant awarded to Kettering University from the U.S. Department of Justice's Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program.

By leveraging and reinforcing fiber optic networks connecting the county's school districts and collaborating with researchers at each of the college campuses, new doors are opening in education, public safety, and healthcare.

“Kettering University is partnering with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University to look at how we can reduce crime in the University Avenue Corridor,” said John Geske, Computer Science professor at Kettering University. “Some of the areas we're looking at are high-definition, high-speed video to do a better job of monitoring the area, utilizing mobile networks to create more responsive social networks and keeping neighborhood watch groups in touch with each other and the police department.”

Advanced data analytics also give researchers and law enforcement command over the area. Trends over time show what specific locations are susceptible to robberies and what areas are incubating crime. With these areas monitored and revamped, the roots of crime networks and trends can be severed.

While advanced networking provides the potential to create safer communities that will attract residents, other advancements in healthcare and education can draw them in and could encourage them to stay. The county school districts and the University of Southern California are undergoing a pilot program to introduce students to advanced biology classes and instructional modules online. A project tracking heart failure patients introduces biometrics monitoring that may help save lives and improve quality of life.

Learn more about how ground-breaking technologies are altering the future of communities across the nation and communities near you at