As the "Internet of things" (IOT) and other technologies continue to rule our society, Arizona State University’s new Center for Smart Cities and Regions addresses how technology can be used to better improve communities in Arizona and around the country.

“It’s a great opportunity for ASU, as a leading research institution, to actually partner with local government and community organizations to ensure as we design these smart cities, we get best practice moving forward,” Arizona State University associate professor Diana Bowman said.

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Being in the early stages of this initiative, ASU has a lot of involvement as the smart region takes off.

“ASU has a number of moving parts in this, everything from the research as well as thinking about the leadership around having to design and create a smart city,” Bowman said.

Dominic Papa, executive director and co-founder of the Institute of Digital Progress, said Phoenix is one of the first to create a smart region, made up of 22 cities and towns in the area.

[RELATED: Billionaire Bill Gates planning to build 'smart city' in Arizona? (Nov. 13, 2017)]

“It’s a project that has never been attempted at this scale before, so it’s exciting to see Arizona and greater Phoenix taking the leadership and expanding smart cities to a smart region,” Papa said.

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What is a smart region, you ask?

“So, technology obviously plays a role in what a smart city is, however, technology is not in and of itself. Technology is only a means to create a better quality of life; a smarter, more sustainable more resilient city,” Papa said.

The Center of Smart Cities and Regions at ASU said it aims to work to improve the ability of communities by using technology to advance their social, economic cultural and overall health.

“It’s how do we leverage technology to improve residents’ lives? How can autonomous vehicles connect low-income individuals to health care? How can IOT centers help prevent water leakage and ensure a more efficient and effective delivery of water to our community?” Papa said.

For more information on smart regions and the Center for Smart Cities and Regions other projects, go to the Center for Smart Cities and Regions website.

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