Virginia Tech researchers garner NSF grant to connect AI with urban planning to improve decision making and service delivery

Tom Sanchez, professor of urban affairs and planning, and Chris North, professor of computer science and associate director of the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, have been awarded a planning grant from the National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Communities program.

The program is committed to accelerating creation of scientific and engineering foundations that will enable smart and connected communities to bring about new levels of economic opportunity and growth, safety and security, health and wellness, accessibility and inclusivity, and overall quality of life.

“Urban planning anticipates and guides the future physical and social conditions of communities to improve quality of life — all with a heavy reliance on increasingly large and varied datasets,” said Sanchez, who serves as principal investigator for the project. “In fact, cities have become primary sites of data collection and algorithm deployment, but the professional field of urban planning lacks a comprehensive evaluation of how artificial intelligence can and should be used to improve analytical processes. Our project will address that question.”

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