January 12, 2021

City Innovate Announces STIR Labs 2020-2021 Cohort Matches

San Francisco, CA City Innovate enters the next phase of the STIR Labs framework with 17 partnerships between local government and universities. STIR Labs is a framework for government-academic applied research projects with direct community impact and is funded by the National Science Foundation.


Through initiating partnerships between expert academics and the changemakers in government, STIR Labs has cohort members from throughout the United States that represent a diverse set of research domains, geographies, and partnerships.


Amongst the high-impact projects, the city of Santa Fe highlights the power of bringing government, academia, and community partners on board. The City of Santa Fe will be working with Nancy Lewis (Director of the Canopy for Creative Collaboration), Wellington Spetic (Director of New Mexico for Good Program), and Manuel R. Montoya (Associate Professor), at the University of New Mexico. Utilizing design thinking methodologies, the research team will study the current entrepreneurship landscape and technology ecosystem in Santa Fe to identify needs and potential solutions within the community. Along with the research team at UNM, a number of community partners will also be supporting the effort such as Santa Fe Innovates, Los Alamos National Lab, and the New Mexico Economic Development Department.


“As we at the City of Santa Fe explore a myriad of ways to mitigate the economic and health crisis brought on by the pandemic, the STIR Labs project is an exceptional opportunity to bring together the minds at UNM, LANL, State Economic Development, a local business accelerator, Santa Fe Innovates, and us, to benefit residents of Santa Fe and the region by maximizing our existing technology ecosystem. [The STIR Labs platform allows us to] capitalize and collaborate to generate increased equity and prosperity in the face of such challenging times.” Elizabeth Camacho, Office of Economic Development, City of Santa Fe


“I look forward to finding novel approaches to how the City of Santa Fe can produce a narrative about its social and cultural landscape in a way that invites technological innovation.  New Mexico’s virtue has always been the invisible labor of diversity, and I am hopeful that our research will cultivate deep notions of progress and growth that will shape our economic destiny.  The STIR framework is exciting because it doesn’t prescribe what an impact should be, but challenges us to creatively identify meaningful ways of leveraging the ecosystems that impact our lives.  I think the team working on this has a wealth of perspectives, and I think we’re going to challenge one another to leverage the New Mexico ethos productively and conscientiously.” – Dr. Manuel-Julian R. Montoya, Associate Professor of Global Structures and International Management at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management


“Good innovation occurs when a diverse cross-section of stakeholders engage, and that is exactly what is happening in Santa Fe. Through STIR Labs, the process encourages these collaborations while ensuring we are thinking uniquely about the challenges and possibilities. It has been energizing to be a part of this initiative.” – Jon Mertz, Founder, Santa Fe Innovates


Announced Projects across the U.S., include:


ABAG / MTC and University of California, Merced

The Association of Bay Area Governments / Metropolitan Transportation Commission will be working with Jessica Trounstine, Professor of Political Science, and her research team at the University of California, Merced. The team will focus on assessing and cataloging available data in each of the 109 jurisdictions for generating metrics to identify policies that have likely contributed to housing segregation and availability. This research will help tell the story of housing inequity for Bay Area jurisdictions as they revise their Housing Elements for AB-686. It builds off of Professor Trounstine’s previous research detailed in her book, Segregation By Design: Local Politics and Inequality in American Cities.


City of Coral Gables and West Virginia University

The City of Coral Gables will be working with Saiph Savage, Research Assistant Professor and Director of HCI Lab, and her research team at West Virginia University to create a smart digital assistant that can guide visitors through the award-winning Coral Gables Smart City Hub. The implementation of the assistant will be a case study for broader research on methodologies and implications for design of smart digital assistants for innovation centers. This multi-pronged project incorporates user research, design, engineering and a longitudinal study. Read more about Dr. Savage’s civic tech research work at http://www.saiph.org/ and view the Coral Gables Smart City Hub at www.coralgables.com/smartcity.


City of Costa Mesa and Chapman University

The City of Costa Mesa will be working with the Spring 2021 Environmental Science & Policy Capstone Course led by Mackenzie Crigger, Adjunct Professor Environmental Science & Policy and Energy and Sustainability Manager, and Jason Keller, Professor of Biological Sciences and Program Director of Environmental Science & Policy, from Chapman University to explore nature-based solutions that reduce the negative impacts of climate change in Costa Mesa while enhancing community resilience and well-being.  The mixed-methods research that includes community engagement and education, will inform Costa Mesa’s current and future programs in sustainability and climate action. Read more about the capstone’s work here: https://www.chapman.edu/campus-services/sustainability/environmental-audit/index.aspx


City of Detroit and San Jose State University

The City of Detroit Office of Talent Development and Performance Management will be working with Kathleen McConnell, Professor of Communication Studies, at San Jose State University to prototype career technical education models tailored to the City of Detroit workforce. The CTE curriculum will aim to create a pipeline of internal talent and a more equitable system for city employees to access resources and opportunities for professional development. It will build upon the office’s work as an accredited training and development provider. This work is part of larger research Professor McConnell conducts in revitalizing civic traditions within vocational and career technical education. Read more about Professor McConnell’s work here: https://www.sjsu.edu/people/kathleen.mcconnell/


MBTA and Metropolitan College at Boston University 

The MBTA will be working with the Decision Sciences Research Lab led by Canan Gunes Corlu, Associate Professor, and John Maleyeff, Associate Professor of Practice, at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. The graduate student team will aim to develop a prototype decision support system for MBTA operations personnel to create a more nuanced approach to deploying resources during severe weather events. As MBTA riders, the research team is looking forward to their research efforts returning dividends in the form of improvements to their personal transit experiences. Read more about the lab’s work here: https://sites.bu.edu/met-dslab/.


City of San Antonio and Warwick Business School and Daniels College of Business at University of Denver

The City of San Antonio Office of Innovation will be working with Luciano C. Oviedo, technology strategy researcher, and Vi Narapareddy, Associate Professor at Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. The city is excited to be working with Luciano, a prior resident of San Antonio, and Dr. Narapareddy to characterize trade-offs, impacts and implications of scaling democratized city-wide innovation processes and practices. The project will integrate novel multi-disciplinary social innovation action research methods such as by implementing agile and iterative design, testing and analysis of business/technology solution architecture and prototypes. The city looks to use this research to build upon their efforts in developing their Ideas Portal from their R&D League. Read more about the city’s R&D League efforts here: https://www.sanantonio.gov/Innovation/R-D-League. Read more about Luciano’s work here: https://www.strategicmanagement.net/bio/10648. Read more about Dr. Naraparedy’s work here: https://www.strategicmanagement.net/bio/5467.


City of San Leandro and Menlo College

The City of San Leandro will be working with Shalini Gopalkrishnan, Visiting Professor, at Menlo College to study the digital divide in San Leandro. Employing both qualitative and quantitative methods, Dr. Gopalkrishnan will study four facets of digital inclusion: Advocacy and Awareness, Internet Access, Devices, and Digital Skills. The research will inform the city’s efforts in increasing the efficacy of its existing broadband network. As a resident of San Leandro with prolific engagements (volunteering, partaking in initiatives, teaching, etc.), Dr. Gopalkrishnan is excited about the opportunity to bring aboard her fellow San Leandro community members to the project. Read more of Dr. Gopalkrishnan’s work here: https://www.menlo.edu/academics/faculty-directory/shalini-gopalkrishnan/


SFMTA and San Francisco State University & University of California, Berkeley & TransForm

SFMTA will be working with researchers from both San Francisco State University and University of California, Berkeley, along with support from TransForm. From SFSU, Sungha Jang (Associate Professor of Marketing) and Leyla Ozsen (Associate Professor of Decision Sciences) will lead a Master of Science in Business Analytics graduate student team. From UC Berkeley, Alexandra Pan (PhD Student) with the mentorship of Susan Shaheen (Professor-in-Residence) and in partnership with community partner TransForm, led by Clarrissa Cabansagan (Director of Programs), will build upon their experience working with researching mobility in Oakland to this project. The team will employ both quantitative and qualitative methods to develop a nuanced understanding about barriers to bike share usage and identify actions that SFMTA can take to improve their bike share service particularly for low-income communities and people of color. Read more here:




City of Memphis and Rhodes College

The City of Memphis’ Division of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will be working with Austin Harrison (Visiting Instructor, Rhodes College) to measure and map direct and indirect residential displacement in Memphis. The city-wide displacement measuring tool and accompanying research will help frame communications around neighborhood change at the hyper-local level in two ways: (1) Conversations to complement ongoing dialogues HCD is having in neighborhoods, such as Orange Mound and Binghampton, in the Community Coalition program; (2) Rhodes College Urban Studies partnership with Juice Orange Mound, a community non-profit, to create a neighborhood plan mindful of displacement pressures and developed by the neighborhood for the neighborhood. The research itself will result in an opportunity for Rhodes students to implement a mixed-methods approach that leverages quantitative and spatial research to frame necessary conversations around how communities can proactively address displacement at the neighborhood level.

Baton Rouge and NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management & Georgetown 

Build Baton Rouge along with the numerous public, private and non-profit organizations in the Baton Rouge Food Insecurity Coalition will be working with collaborators Manny Patole (Co-City Fellow and Project Manager) at the Marron Institute of Urban Management, Sheila Foster (Professor of Urban Law and Policy and Co-Director of LabGov) at Georgetown University, and Clayton Gillette (Professor of Contract Law and Director of NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management). This comprehensive team is looking to map the current food ecosystem for the various stakeholders in Baton Rouge,  conduct a gap analysis study, and identify policy impacts and implications. This will be a sub-project of a larger multi-faceted effort by the team. Learn more here: https://labgov.georgetown.edu/active-experiments/labgov-baton-rouge/


City of San Jose and UNC Greensboro

The City of San Jose will be working with Christine Murray, Director of the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships, at UNC Greensboro on examining the child care equity infrastructure and investment opportunities in the community. The city aims to better understand the actions it can take to create a resilient child care system that better supports vulnerable populations. Dr.Murray brings extensive community-engaged research experience, and aims to conduct mixed-methodology research that incorporates deep understanding of the local community along with national trends and impacts in the child care space. Learn more here: https://cyfcp.uncg.edu/christine-murray/


City of Austin and Texas State University

The City of Austin will be working with a team from Texas State University including Scott Smith (Associate Professor and Director of the Virtual Reality and Technology Lab), George Koutitas (Assistant Professor) and Grayson Lawrence (Associate Professor). The team will be working with the city to develop and design a virtual reality training module for their infrastructure (code) inspectors, including testing and evaluating the efficiency and impact of the module. This research aids the city in its effort to accelerate the inspection process. Read more about the research team’s work here: https://augmentedtrainingsystems.com/


City of Austin and University of Texas, Austin

The City of Austin will be working with S.Craig Watkins (Professor and Director of the Institute for Media Innovation), Sherri R. Greenberg (Professor of Practice), Deepak Chetty (Assistant Professor of Practice), and William Spelman (Professor) from the University of Texas, Austin. The team has proposed a feasibility study of new crowd-data protocols and scenarios to mitigate the impact of bias in crowd management and of VR training modules that support public safety staff in reducing implicit bias in operations. The research will explore the implications of implicit bias in the collection, management and analysis of crowd data and the design of training modules. This partnership is part of the research team’s larger work in the interdisciplinary UT Good Systems initiative, read more about it here: https://bridgingbarriers.utexas.edu/good-systems/

The City of Sacramento and California State University, Sacramento; the City of Long Beach and California State University, Long Beach; and the City of West Sacramento and California State University, Sacramento will be finalizing the scope of their projects throughout January and working on their respective challenges throughout the 16 week cohort period.

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Additional quotes and interview opportunities available upon request.


About STIR Labs

STIR Labs connects researchers with government agencies and promotes integrative research by transforming how researchers and governments collaborate to maximize community impact. STIR Labs is funded by The National Science Foundation and leverages City Innovate’s success connecting over 40 governments to innovative govtech startups via STiR to address over a hundred challenges. To learn more about STIR Labs visit: https://www.cityinnovate.com/stirlabs