Community First: A Smart and Connected Communities Virtual Organization
Lead PI:
Payman Arabshahi

NSF's flagship Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) program was launched in 2016 to support research advances in technological and social dimensions with meaningful community engagement and collaboration. The S&CC program has now reached a point where a virtual organization (VO) is essential to further catalyze the rapid evolution of this new cross-disciplinary field. The central goal of this project is to accelerate convergence of diverse disciplines in the smart and connected communities domain through the creation of a new S&CC-VO. The S&CC-VO will (i) facilitate and foster interaction and exchanges among S&CC principal investigators and their teams, including community partners; (ii) enable sharing of artifacts and knowledge generated by S&CC projects with the broader scientific and non-academic communities such as local community stakeholders; and (iii) facilitate and foster collaboration and information exchange between S&CC researchers, community stakeholders, and others.

The S&CC-VO will advance knowledge and learning in the S&CC field through partnerships spanning academia, government, industry, and especially, community organizations. The project will create and maintain a web-based repository and collaborative platform to facilitate the exploration and open exchange of research results, tools, datasets and educational materials among S&CC researchers, stakeholders, and the broader community. To increase access to discoveries, the virtual organization will allow curating content with shared taxonomies so critical data, tools, and discoveries can be found from traditionally separated domains. Active resources will allow easy access to explore datasets, toolchains, and research artifacts for experts and non-experts alike. Actionable information will be made accessible by building out features in a configurable, as-needed basis, by moderating content, and by ultimately keeping the VO as an impactful community driven organization subject to community evaluation, feedback, and review. Outreach activities for academic, government, industry, non-profits, and other stakeholders will be facilitated within the S&CC-VO and through community engagement sessions. The S&CC Community Forum at the annual S&CC PI Meeting, and CPS-IoT Week further create opportunities for matchmaking and mechanisms for engagement along both technological and social dimensions. The S&CC-VO will become a highly effective tool for broadening participation of diverse and vulnerable communities, grass-roots organizations, and volunteer groups in research programs. Opening up and enabling access to research topics, teaming opportunities, datasets, toolchains, and other research artifacts eliminates the high threshold to entering the research field, improves equity by open access, and enables the formation of competitive projects in areas that need S&CC results the most.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Payman Arabshahi
Payman Arabshahi is currently Associate Chair for Education, Industry Liaison, and Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Principal Scientist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory. From 1994-1996, he served on the faculty of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. From 1997-2006 he was on the senior technical staff of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, CA, in the Communications Architectures and Research Section, working on Earth orbit and deep space communication networks and protocols, and design of planetary exploration missions. While at JPL he also served as affiliate graduate faculty at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Caltech, where he taught the three-course graduate sequence on digital communications. He has been the co-founder of, or advisor to, a number of technology startup companies. His research interests are in environmental monitoring and wireless sensor networks, resilience of critical infrastructure, emergency communications, underwater and space communications, acoustics, data mining and search, and signal processing.
Performance Period: 10/01/2021 - 09/30/2024
Institution: University of Washington
Award Number: 2124996
Core Areas: Other