University of Washington and University of British Columbia establish urban data center to advance social good in Cascadia

Today the University of Washington and University of British Columbia announced creation of the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative

In an expansion of regional cooperation, the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington today announced the establishment of the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative to use data to help cities and communities address challenges from traffic to homelessness. The largest industry-funded research partnership between UBC and the UW, the collaborative will bring faculty, students and community stakeholders together to solve problems, and is made possible thanks to a $1-million gift from Microsoft…

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to use data to help our communities make decisions, and as a result improve people’s lives and well-being. That commitment to the public good is at the core of the mission of our two universities, and we’re grateful to Microsoft for making a community-minded contribution that will spark a range of collaborations,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.

The project continues efforts to expand regional cooperation between Vancouver and Seattle. 

Today’s announcement follows last September’s Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Vancouver, B.C. The forum brought together regional leaders for the first time to identify concrete opportunities for partnerships in education, transportation, university research, human capital and other areas.

We wrote about the conference here and here.

Geek Wire reports,

In a blog post Thursday, Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote that the partnership represents the “region’s single largest university-based, industry-funded joint research project.”

The cooperative will bring together students, researchers, and public stakeholders to solve problems in areas like transportation, housing, and climate. The goal is to build on research from UW’s eScience Institute, its Data Science for Social Good summer program and UBC’s Data Science Institute. The two institutions have worked together on a couple of projects in the past.

The Geek Wire story adds,

Here’s Smith explanation for why Microsoft got involved in the partnership:

We believe that this one grant will enable the two universities to complete twice as much joint research over the next two years as they have accomplished in the past 10. But our goal is bigger than this one-time gift. We see this investment as a catalyst for broader and more sustainable efforts between these two institutions that will benefit both Washington state and British Columbia, and the U.S. and Canada more broadly.

This is an exciting development, a unique and visionary partnership with unlimited potential for improving the quality of life and expanding opportunity in our region and beyond.