Houston-Rice Research Partnership Aims To Improve City Operations

The city of Houston will work together with Rice University for research projects to address issues facing the region.
The partnership was announced at the White House Smart Cities Forum this week.


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The city of Houston and Rice University join 21 other local governments and 27 universities across the nation that have teamed up in the MetroLab Network.

The goal is to come up with solutions for challenges to infrastructure, city services and civic engagement.

Bill Fulton, director of Rice's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, said as part of the partnership, researchers get easier access to city data.

"The leaders of the city – the department heads and so forth – will be able to sit down with a wide range of professors at Rice, all the way from sociology to computer science to engineering, to talk about ways in which we can apply our research expertise to help the city on a wide range of problems," Fulton said.

During this academic year, each city-university partnership will focus on three research projects.

Rice and the city of Houston will look into the trend of urban gentrification, the impact of streetlights in neighborhoods, and how well the bike-sharing service B-Cycle is used.

Fulton said it will be an ongoing partnership.

"We're very hopeful, for example, that our expertise in science and engineering and computer science will be able to help the city improve a lot of the city operations to do more with less," he said.

The city of Houston didn't make anyone available for an interview.

In a statement, Mayor Annise Parker said the partnership will help the city make informed decisions.

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