UNC Greensboro and Guilford County have announced a joint agreement as the newest members of the innovative MetroLab Network, a network of 37 regional city/county-university partnerships focused on bringing data, analytics and innovation to local government.

UNCG and Guilford County are one of only five county-university MetroLab partnerships in the nation. Network members research, develop and deploy technologies and policy approaches to address challenges facing cities and communities across the country. MetroLab was launched by 21 founding city-university pairings in September 2015 as part of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative.

MetroLab Network’s government-university partnerships are relationships in which the university serves as a research and development arm, and the government agencies serve as a test-bed for technologies and data-driven approaches. Faculty members and students gain access to real-world laboratories to develop and test tools and programs that utilize information technology, data analytics, sensing and more.

“We are excited about this partnership and the immense potential it holds for the future,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “By leveraging our collective resources, we are able to fast-track positive outcomes for the UNCG community and Guilford County. As the largest public university in the Triad, we are committed to sharing our research, technology and innovation to enhance the place we call home.”

Local governments benefit from their technical expertise, leading to solutions that reduce the cost of infrastructure and services, making local governments more sustainable and resilient, and improve citizens’ quality of life. MetroLab Network members are working on more than 100 “research, development and deployment” projects with broad impact on areas such as improving transportation and water systems, reducing the energy footprint in cities, advancing health and public safety goals, using data to improve human services and more.     

“Guilford County is thrilled to be part of the national MetroLab network. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with UNCG,” said Alan Branson, chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. “Their expertise and research interests align with many of the county’s priorities and open data initiatives, so it makes great sense for us to jointly explore and test innovative ways to improve our community and make progress on our common goals and generate real benefits for Guilford County.”

MetroLab Network connects these government-university partnerships via a national, collaborative platform that facilitates the sharing of information and the scaling of technology and solutions across the country.

By becoming members of MetroLab Network, UNCG and Guilford County have signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed to undertake at least three research, development and deployment projects addressing opioid abuse, substance abuse interventions and the prevention of homelessness through eviction diversion strategies.   

“We are thrilled to welcome Guilford County and UNC Greensboro to our network,” said Ben Levine, executive director of MetroLab Network. “Their focus on innovation and technology will help drive progress in the cities and regions that are addressing similar issues across the country. Furthermore, their collaboration with our extensive national network of cities and universities will accelerate progress throughout Guilford County on many of its priorities.”