Improve accessibility and confidence for smart city hub users

Coral Gables, FL
West Virginia University



AI/ML, Data Analytics, Natural Language Processing, Open Gov, User Research

Procurement Method:

University Partner:

West Virginia University

Partnership Description

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 the 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 and view the Coral Gables Smart City Hub at


The City of Coral Gables / Information Technology Department is seeking a friendly and interactive solution to increase the confidence of users and improve accessibility for our Smart City Hub platform.


The Coral Gables Smart City Hub (SC Hub) is an award-winning public platform that provides digital services and information resources to our citizens and our employees in one single place, like a "digital supermarket" platform of platforms. The SC Hub includes 10+ sets of different services and resources. 

The SC Hub was ambitiously created to deliver: value; transparency into government; open data and analytics; actionable information and insight; opportunities for citizen engagement; tools for crowdsourcing and collaboration accessible and inclusive services, and efforts to achieve digital equity for our citizens and stakeholders within the smart city ecosystem. 

The SC Hub has a variety of stakeholders and users, including residents, visitors, businesses, city employees, first responders, urban planners, traffic engineers, university researchers, students, and the public in general.

The City of Coral Gables is facing two primary issues with the SC Hub: 

  1. Due to the wide amount of services in the SC Hub, it can be challenging for our users to find what they are looking for.
  2. There is a general lack of awareness of the breadth of services provided. Because of the volume and diversity of services, users miss useful and beneficial services that they can leverage. Although we have made several UX and content/design improvements over the years, we recognize that there is a need to improve accessibility, and inclusion of our digital services.

Requirements & Outcomes

The City of Coral Gables' IT department seeks the following outcomes:

  • Understand strategies to increase user confidence in civic digital platform
  • Identify different user segments of SC Hub
  • Provide data analytics on our user data and their interactive experiences (activity log and heuristics) to help us understand our users, their needs, and to serve them better.  
  • Identify aspects of user journey that create an intimidating and overwhelming experience
  • Create a less overwhelming and intimidating user experience in the SC Hub
  • Understand how to present services to decrease the time it takes for users to find what they are looking for
  • Identify methods to increase discoverability of other resources on SC Hub that a user might find helpful
  • Increase interactivity, friendliness, efficiency of SC Hub 

The Long Term Vision for the SC Hub:

The IT Team is exploring how a smart digital assistant on top of the SC Hub might provide a friendly, conversational and interactive user journey through the platform. The team is open to exploring recommendations on different avenues that can help us achieve similar outcomes. 

The assistant would: 

  • Efficiently direct the different segments of users towards the services that might be beneficial to them. The team is interested in an AI / interactive UX design because of the ability of those kinds of solutions to help users navigate complex menus and digital content.  
  • The solution/digital assistant will be personable and will be aligned with the City's branding 
  • The solution/digital assistant will be able to interact/interoperate with the SC Hub, but still work independently/autonomously from the smart city hub platform and its associated systems as an overlay/embedded UX/API, without requiring code/engine customization of off-the-shelf platforms (ESRI, Microsoft, Cisco, ERPs, etc.). 
  • Provide a customizable knowledge base and self-discoverable menu/content indexing automation capabilities so the digital assistant evolves with changes in the hub's structure and service menus and content (adaptable, low-maintenance service).
  • Provide predictive analytics to be able to derive insight from the data sources in the horizontal integration backend (already aggregated in data and GIS clouds and accessible via APIs)
  • Can derive insight and predictive analytics from the data sources in the horizontal integration backend to assist the users with statistical questions.

City of Coral Gables is looking for a research team with:

  • UX research experience
  • Previous experience designing and implementing an user-guided experience 
  • If the team is proposing a digital assistant project, the team should have the technical skills to develop the interactive digital assistant. 

STIR Labs Research Challenges Published

Learn how you can tackle the challenges at our informational webinar