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West Hub Partner CSU LA Announces New Smart Cities Certificate

By Kimberly Mann Bruch, SDSC Communications

The term “Smart City” describes using electronic methods to collect specific data to increase operational efficiency to solve city problems. The California State University in Los Angeles (Cal State LA) has recently announced a new professional education program focused on hands-on skills for people interested in working together on Smart Cities. Specifically, the certificate focuses on growing a workforce that can effectively assist with Los Angeles’ rising problems related to housing, education, employment, transportation, accessibility, social services, crime, aging population, immigration and climate change.

The Cal State LA Smart Cities Certificate Program has been specifically developed to teach students analytical skills in urban policy and development. It provides GIS (Geographical Information System) training that is applied to investigate, interpret, understand, track, monitor, evaluate and analyze social indicators.

The one-year Smart Cities Certificate Program offers an affordable and accessible venue for professionals to understand and develop websites, reports, visualizations and oral presentations that can be presented to government leaders and industry, non-profit and academic organizations.

“This work is an extension of our West Hub project that was funded by the National Science Foundation a few years ago,” said Theodoric Manley, a sociology professor at Cal State LA. “Our studies showed us that by 2050, approximately 75 percent of the population in the U.S. will be living in urban areas - such as Los Angeles - hence, we need to plan on how to accommodate this continued growth in population.”

Manley has worked on the curriculum for the certificate with Kris Bezdecny, an associate professor at Cal State LA. 

He said that they created this program so that students are prepared to develop and implement Smart City concepts. The capstone projects allow the students to create a dashboard about a specific project so that they can measure, evaluate and monitor applicable policy changes related to their topic in the City and County of Los Angeles.

“They’ve distilled a new area of research and (data) innovation into an applied curriculum that allows any citizen to opt into and participate in studying and improving the lives of people in cities,” said Christine Kirkpatrick, PI of the West Hub at UC San Diego. “The work of Dr. Manley and his colleagues to create the Smart Cities certificate program at CSULA is an exemplar of what NSF envisioned when it created the Big Data Innovation Hub portfolio.” 

At an affordable cost of $1500, the program consists of ten modules and will be available for registration in Fall 2024. Contact for more information.


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