New Progress on Project Creating Better Technology for Prairie View
November 12 – Some take for granted the everyday luxuries that technology helps make possible in urban settings. For rural communities, particularly the namesake city of the university, technology is in significant lack, but a team of researchers are on track to make extreme changes for Prairie View. The Smart and Connected Communities Planning Grant project provided by the National Science Foundation will be the first step in bringing this emerging city better technology.
Prairie View A&M University’s Executive Director for the Center of Excellence for Communication Systems Technology Resarch (CECSTR), Dr. Cajetan Akujuobi is the principal investigator on the project. He has brought on several other PVAMU faculty for this project including Dr. Farrah Cambrice, Sociology professor, and Dr. Noel Estwick of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. The team has worked closely with Mayor David Allen since beginning the project in January 2018. Dr. Cambrice accompanied Mayor Allen to the 2018 U.S. Ignite Application Summit where they served on a panel and shared their effort to improve technology and how the grant is helping. “The main goal of the grant is to assess the needs of rural residents here in Prairie View to find out how technology could improve their quality of life,” said Dr. Cambrice.
The $100,000 grant is being used to hold community assessments, and hiring student workers among other planning necessities. Based on a series of community surveys and focus groups held in the first two phases of the project where qualitative and quantitative data was collected, residents honed in on healthcare. The team decided to focus on e-health and using technology to better improve health services in the community. The final phase of implementing the findings of the data and creating resources to target the issues will be rolled out as the project nears completion.
With Dr. Estwick’s expertise as an urban planner, he has been able to lend his knowledge for the community engagement component of the project and developing ways to protect the city from disasters. His specific interest is to help protect farmers and their animals and crops during flooding events. “From an agriculture perspective, the use of technology is important. An important technology that we’re considering is tagging animals. Animals natural instincts to know when something bad is coming, so we tag to know where they are if they get lost,” said Dr. Estwick. Although agriculture is not one of the main concerns plaguing residents, it is still an important part of what makes the community work.
The project is on track to end in May 2019. At its conclusion, the team will host a community forum where the information collected during this planning will be presented to Prairie View residents. After the implementation of improving technology from the healthcare standpoint, the team hopes to move forward with improving technology in other areas as well.