MU Engineering faculty takes smart cities research to new heights

Smart cities are on the rise. Smart sensing systems and associated data analysis frameworks play a key role in development of smart cities.

Mizzou Engineering faculty are leading the way in this realm, and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department has the accolades to prove it.

Amir Alavi


The more the researchers study the potential of integrating smart sensors and data analytics to properly manage civil infrastructure systems, the more necessary a book became. In this arena, Assistant Professor Amir Alavi and Glen Barton Chair of Flexible Pavement Technology Bill Buttlar recently released a book, Data Analytics for Smart Cities, through CRC Press. Data Analytics for Smart Cities looks at how big data analytics can help interpret data from a wide variety of smart city applications. With real-time, automated data set to become the new norm in major cities, developing best practices becomes more important.

“Smart cities are receiving significant attention from public and private sectors,” Alavi said. “Perhaps, the best definition is a city that connects our physical infrastructure to the information technology, business and social infrastructure. The goal is to create a collective intelligence and seamless connectivity for the city.

“Data analytics technologies are key components of the smart city solutions. With massive amounts of data currently generated by testing and monitoring systems, we can do a lot of interpretations toward  more intelligent decision making”

Alavi’s research is uniquely positioned in this realm. His expertise in deployment of advanced sensors, energy harvesting, and engineering systems informatics puts him at the intersection of smart infrastructure systems and data analytics. As such, researchers branching into these areas cite his work often. So often, in fact, that he was named to the 2018 list of “The World’s 1% Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters recently. The list includes about 6,000 scientists from all around the globe. He joins J. Chris Pires, Jerry Taylor, Shuqun Zhang and Blake C. Meyers as the only Mizzou researchers on the list.

“Essentially, my multidisciplinary research integrates sensing, computation, control, networking, and information systems to create cyber-physical infrastructure systems.” he explained. “I think these are really innovative areas that form the backbone of our future smart infrastructure.”

Despite his unique research focus, he still was surprised to be included.

“We have fantastic researchers and very big shots in the field,” Alavi said. “And I’m a newcomer. It was very surprising for me to be on that list.”

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