Ohio University

New Course: ITS Urban Tech for Social Good

New Course: ITS Urban Tech for Social Good

Technology affects the way individuals communicate, learn and think. From helping society to impacting how people interact with each other daily, the use of technology plays an important role in society today. For these reasons, companies and people involved in the technology community want to bring systemic change which can have a positive impact on the social sector and help people. For example, Avanade is the leading provider of innovative digital and cloud services, business solutions and design-led experiences delivered through the Microsoft technologies. One of their goals are to become a partner to non-profits for delivering Microsoft technologies globally and help create social impact through the power of technology.

There is a growing desire to obtain humanistic and ethical impacts for technology while also having consumer and enterprise benefits. In the city of Toronto, a company by the name of Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet’s smart city subsidiary, had a plan to transform Toronto’s waterfront into a high-tech utopia. The idea was to build a city within a city to experiment with innovations like self-driving cars, public WiFi, new health care delivery solutions, and other planning advances that modern technology makes possible. Unfortunately, after two and a half years of development, Sidewalk Labs announced the project could no longer be pursued due to the unprecedented economic uncertainty, as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, the project ran into community opposition from local residents who objected to the high-tech, sensor-laden vision because of privacy and intellectual property. The purpose behind this high-tech utopia was to create an ecosystem where technology is used to help society function in a positive approach to

the future. Researchers and developers are continuously trying to find new innovative applications in the area of social good. To go along with this, universities are hiring faculty and establishing educational programs to specialize in social good.

Projected to start in the Spring of 2021 is a course taught by current director of the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies, Julio Arauz. This new course called ITS Urban Technology for Social Good. As Arauz has described in an interview, the course will focus on understanding, identifying, and applying different ways that technology can be used to create a positive affect on society. The initiative to teach a course such as this one comes from Arauz’s professional career when he worked on a project where municipalities use low-cost measuring devices to track the progress of rain gardens taking the overflow of rainwater and putting it back into the ground. The rain garden has an impact on the amount of water that flows when there was a large water event such as too much rain or melting snow. Too much storm water, the pipes under the ground fill up and eventually pollutants float onto the streets causing flooding. Ever since his collaboration on the rain garden project, Arauz has been working in this area of concentration, discovering problems and using technology to build a connection to communities, where it is or could be useful. Examples and problems like the previous one are the main focus of the course. According to Arauz, with his involvement in this area for about three or more years, the idea of this course has always been in his mind and while Aruaz has published articles in the area, this will be his first time teaching people about it and that is something he is excited about.

More information regarding the class and learning from professor Arauz will be coming soon.

The McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies strives to offer the best academic programs in the IT (Information Technology), the game development and the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) industries. Our programs and certificates cover numerous aspects of the rapidly changing industries of information networking, information security, data privacy, game development, digital animation and the academic side of esports.