- The Knight Foundation announced a $925,000 investment to support the use of technology in Miami's Underline public space project. The investment will help the nonprofit Friends of The Underline expand its staff and develop a technology master plan.
- The Underline is a planned 10-mile, 120-acre linear park that will stretch from downtown Miami to the suburbs underneath the Miami-Dade County Metrorail. The Knight Foundation had previously invested $500,000 in public art for the project.
- It's unclear what kind of technology could be used at the park, Friends of the Underline President and CEO Meg Daly told Smart Cities Dive. The group will hold community meetings to gather public opinion as it develops its technology plan.
The Underline has been touted as Miami's version of the High Line in New York City: a redevelopment of unused land to create a public gathering space, complete with public art, green space and areas for recreation. The first phase of the project is set to open in summer 2020, with the second phase of construction slated for spring 2020.
Technology has always been thought of as a part of the project's development, even if it is meant to be an outdoor space, Daly said.
"This is not an 1800's park. It's below the Metrorail, where people use this space to travel and there's already technology being used," she said. "We think that with every area of the Underline — the green space, the recreation, the arts and programming — technology can knit it all up."
Some of the low-hanging fruit for the park includes security and safety technology, wireless internet and 5G connectivity. But organizers have also considered how technology could be used to enhance public art, and have even discussed the possibility of using virtual reality headsets to show off how future sections of the park will look as it develops, Daly said.
Raul Moas, Knight Foundation program director for Miami, said the organization has spotlighted the Underline as a "world-class civic common space" that other smart cities can replicate. A survey by the Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community Initiative found that across 43 cities, "social offerings, openness and welcome-ness" and "aesthetics" of a city were more important to residents than education and safety as a "driver of attachment,"
The foundation deliberately did not specify any technology in its funding because it wants to encourage community involvement.
"If we don't ask the community for input, we could end up with a space with no technology whatsoever, or one that feels overly programmed and cold," Moas said. "By elevating the residents' voices, we make sure what happens is not a top-down approach that ends up in a relevance stalemate, where it's not what the community felt was needed."