Toward a statewide public Internet of Things (IoT) network
Lead PI:
K. Max Zhang

Teaming with community partners across New York State (NYS), this project will design a coordinated, statewide public internet of things (IoT) network based on unlicensed lower power wide area network (LPWAN) technology. The work is motivated by an imperative need to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas, which has contributed not only to information disparities, but also greater social, democratic, educational, and economic disparities. The research will test the concept of IoT networks as a public utility to bridge the digital divide. This project explicitly sees rural communities as opportunities for developing new networked technologies which can leapfrog traditional wired broadband technologies and create new opportunities for local technological development and innovation.

The research plan is framed as a co-design process with community partners to create the envisioned IoT network through synergetic research and education, living labs and community engagement. The key feature of the co-design process is to integrate scalable/adaptable physical networks and trustworthy social networks. The project will identify and overcome key barriers for adopting LPWAN networks, develop scalable and adaptable network topology for 100% LPWAN coverage for three types of governance structures (i.e., cities, towns and villages), and create effective strategies to build trust among communities of public IoT networks. This project not only creates the first introductory course in IoT at Cornell University, but also expands the engaged learning opportunities to citizen across NYS through innovative community-based learning hubs; a model that can be replicated across the U.S.

K. Max Zhang
Dr. Max Zhang is the Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering at Cornell University. His research interests focus on energy and the environment, driven by societal impact. He studies the interactions between energy and environmental systems using numerical models and experimental techniques, in the context of air pollution, renewable energy, and deep decarbonization. Dr. Zhang’s research has led to major legislation and programs in New York, the U.S., and internationally. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Dr. Zhang’s extensive experience with Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions in the energy and environmental systems led him to create an initiative to design the first statewide public IoT network in the U.S. He believes that combining broadband with Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) is the most cost-effective way to bridge the digital divide between rural and non-rural America.
Performance Period: 10/01/2020 - 09/30/2024
Institution: Cornell University
Award Number: 1952063