TAMPA —The University of South Florida and the City of Tampa agreed Tuesday to work together to apply technological advances to improving urban life.
Styled "Smart Cities," the initiative means Tampa is now the second Florida city vying to take part in the MetroLab Network, following Miami's collaboration with Florida International University.
The network has 35 university-city partnerships. A key advantage to joining is greater clout when applying for federal grants.
Such relationships will put Tampa ahead of a pack of cities trying to attract the same pool of business and talent, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said at a signing ceremony on the USF campus.
"It's a formula for success," Buckhorn said. "It's what differentiates us from our competitors."
USF president Judy Genshaft said every major American metro has a research university. USF and Tampa should be working together to grow the city and, eventually, the region.
"Every great city, every great urban area, has a research university. And a research university is a part of every big urban area," Genshaft said. "We're like Siamese twins."
Pasco County officials also attended the event.
University officials said the recent hard feelings in Pinellas County over the consolidation of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg into USF won't impact plans to build a regional effort of university research applied to urban woes in transportation, public health and other areas.
"I don't see any of those issues interfering or slowing us down," said Rob Bertini, director of the university's Center for Urban Transportation Research.
Already, USF graduate students are working with Tampa to protect the city against cyber attacks on its traffic system, including traffic signals and bridges, said city engineer and Smart City project manager Vik Bhide.
Other projects in the works could include traffic sensors and autonomous vehicles.
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