Six months after its launch, a research coalition among Chattanooga's public hospital, electric utility, university and local governments has been recognized as the top Smart City initiative in the field of education by a national group focused on how new technologies can help cities.

In its second annual North American awards, IDC Government Insights selected The Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative as the top education initiative. Among 65 applicants, an international panel of judges and more than 4,100 public voters helped pick the Smart City winners judged to be the best practice examples of urban innovation in their use of data and cloud, platforms, analytics, IoT, and mobile solutions.

"We continue to be impressed with the quality of projects being implemented by cities and their partners in North America," said Ruthbea Yesner, vice president of IDC Government Insights and Smart Cities and Communities. "This second year of applicants demonstrated that cities are being highly innovative in term of partnership and funding models and using technology to achieve specific outcomes."

The Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative is a partnership between the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Erlanger Health System, EPB, CoLab, the Enterprise Center and city and county governments.

Chattanooga boasts the fastest citywide internet connections, courtesy of EPB Fiber Optics network. Chattanooga also is home to UTC's new Center for Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP), which is conducting smart city research on energy, mobility, healthcare, public safety, water, and waste.

"We have a collaborative where we have the community heavily engaged with our anchor institutions and we're showing that working together really works," said Ken Hays, president of The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga. "We also are engaged in trying to bring entrepreneurs into research to bring a different set of skill sets and to speed bringing in new technologies and, in some cases, commercializing these new ideas."

Hays said such work fits with moves by the National Science Foundation and others to try to do more to link academic and medical research with real-life local problems.

"We've caught the attention of some of the national leaders and our challenge now is we have to go and deliver," Hays said.

Chattanooga has already attracted researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, UT Dallas, and The University of Vermont to conduct studies here.

UTC recently joined MetroLab Network, a national coalition of cities and universities working on research projects for urban areas. One example is the university's CUIP work with the city on its 911 calls and police reports to help identify where accidents are occurring and why.

With support from the National Science Foundation, UTC researchers also are working on autonomous vehicles and local traffic patterns to improve local transportation and a ground penetrating radar research to examine underground infrastructure and problems.

The new Smart Community Collaborative has designated Dr. Reinhold Mann, UTC's deputy vice chancellor for research, as the chief scientist of the initiative.

Chattanooga and other winners of the IDC Smart Cities North American Awards will be recognized at the Smart Cities New York conference on May 14.

Contact Dave Flessner at or 423-757-6340