New Jersey Smart Cities Working Group

What is the New Jersey Smart Cities Working Group?

The central research offices of Princeton, Rutgers, NJIT, Rowan and Stevens Institute, in coordination with NJ State Chief Innovation Officer Beth Noveck, have formed a working group to pursue collaborative opportunities for “smart cities” research in New Jersey. Research institutions throughout the state are eligible and invited to participate.

The working group follows the recent success of a 2019 multi-institutional conference, Building the Future: New Technological Frontiers in Cities, held at Princeton University. More than 200 participants, including university researchers; city, county and state government officials; and industry representatives came together to review current research and to explore new opportunities for collaboration in this growing field.

Working Group Mission

To pursue collaborative research opportunities for Smart Cities among universities, industry, government, and associations in the NJ Region, to advance municipal sustainability, equity, and prosperity in NJ cities and regions.


The rapid evolution of data technologies creates new opportunities to improve urban living. At the same time, the geography of NJ—small and mid-sized cities, in distinct clusters—requires collaboration between the many players for problem solving. The Working Group is a way to synergize parallel smart cities efforts within NJ higher education, together with recent NJ state initiatives for innovation-driven economic development, for the benefit of residents.

Stakeholders in Working Group Efforts

  • University researchers
  • City/county governments
  • State government/NJEDA
  • Foundations/nonprofits
  • NSF and DOE
  • Industry
  • New Jersey residents
  • University students


The Working Group will identify and match stakeholder needs, capabilities, and resources toward its mission, as follows:

  • Needs: as determined by cities, the state, and researchers
  • Capabilities: as described by researchers and companies
  • Resources: as provided / facilitated by federal agencies, state agencies, industry, and foundations.


To execute the methodology, the Working Group is pursuing research collaborations, by:

  • Vetting and organizing opportunities that involve multiple stakeholders.
  • Organizing events such as workshops, symposia, hackathons, and meetups, to advance collaboration opportunities.

Spencer Reynolds of Princeton CEFR speaks with an attendee at a Smart Cities event

Spencer Reynolds of Princeton Corporate Engagement (L) speaks with an attendee at a Smart Cities event

Administrative Contact

Spencer Reynolds, Princeton University, spencerR(at)






Most Recent Events

New Jersey Big Data Alliance 2021 Symposium

2020 Virtual Workshops: NJ Urban Resilience Research Collaborations

  1. Water Systems Resilience: Protecting water systems from evolving stressors

  2. Energy Systems ResilienceDeveloping Alternative Energy Sources toward Clean Energy and Disaster Management

  3. Cyber Systems Resilience: Decreasing Risk to Empower Growth 

Event Listings

New Jersey Big Data Alliance 2021 Symposium: April 29-30, 2021

The topic of this year's event is "Smart State: Big Data for Community Impact" and is hosted – virtually –this year by Princeton University. This event is free and open to all. More information and registration.


2020 Virtual Workshops: NJ Urban Resilience Research Collaborations

These workshops, held in November and December 2020,  provided a forum for researchers at universities throughout New Jersey to receive input from NJ urban resilience professionals on research topics appropriate for potential federal funding. The workshops were sponsored by the New Jersey Smart Cities Working Group, comprised of Kean University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rowan University, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, AND Stevens Institute of Technology.

Agenda for All Workshops

  • A panel of government and industry stakeholders
  • Faculty research overviews
  • Next steps for collaboration planni
1. Water Systems Resilience: Protecting water systems from evolving stressorsJennifer Heymann from American Water speaks at the Water Resiliency Workshop on November 5, 2020

This November 5, 2020 workshop was part of Engage 2020, Princeton University's virtual conference on innovation and entrepreneurship. A video recording of this workshop is available here.

As the most densely populated state, NJ experiences a wide and evolving range of stress on water systems, both natural and human-made. Climate change induces greater extremes of storm events and drought, exacerbating chronic pressures of pollution and aging infrastructure. Moreover, economic challenges forestall infrastructure upgrades, with disproportionate effects on the lowest-income neighborhoods and groups.

The session explores multi-sector perspectives on protecting urban water systems from today’s leading stressors. The opening panel includes government and industry stakeholders describing the latest needs for managing complex systems amid climate extremes of storms and high heat; along with pollution, urbanization, and infrastructure age. Faculty research briefs follow, with an eye to updating research agendas to support infrastructure innovations.


  • Chris Sturm, Managing Director, Policy and Water, Jersey Water Works
  • Jennifer Heymann, Senior Project Manager, Water Quality, American Water
  • Jeff Hoffman, NJ State Geologist, NJ DEP

2. Energy Systems ResilienceDeveloping Alternative Energy Sources toward Clean Energy and Disaster Management

 This workshop was held on Thursday, November 19, 2020.

    As New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan notes, adopting 100% clean energy by 2050 requires aggressive deployment of existing technologies and adopting new technologies as they become cost competitive. In addition to being clean, affordable and reliable, new energy systems and technologies must be resilient—to acute events such as storms and heat waves, and to long term trends such as climate change and technology evolution. How the state and the wider world integrate resilience into future systems determines the return on innovation in the long run, and determines public faith in governments and markets to provide our most basic needs reliably.

    The Energy Resilience Workshop will explore ongoing research topics ensuring New Jersey’s energy systems are sustainable and resilient. This topic runs the gamut from system reliability and disaster planning/response, to innovations and technologies aimed at reducing carbon footprint, including offshore wind, energy harvesting, and micro grid technologies.


    • Simon Gore: U.S. Department of Energy
    • Kelly Mooij, Director, Division of Clean Energy at New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
    • Brian Sabina, Sr. Vice President, Economic Transformation, New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)
    3. Cyber Systems Resilience: Decreasing Risk to Empower Growth 

    This workshop was held on December 3, 2020.

    For community leaders and managers, the promise of novel technologies to improve citizen engagement and drive resource efficiencies is too great to ignore. As governments adopt new digital tools, however, they are increasing the points of attack by malicious actors. Just since 2019, more than 1500 cybersecurity incidents have been reported to the NJCCIC (NJ Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell). The risk of cyber threats can and slow digital transformation and hinder progress towards an innovation-driven economy. Therefore, A safe, secure, and trustworthy digital environment is a prerequisite for future growth and prosperity.  

     This session will explore the perspectives and needs of municipal and state leaders responsible for securing our public and private networks and will highlight opportunities for faculty to form new collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders to advance the frontier of cybersecurity science and technology. 


    • Michael Geraphty, Chief Information Security Officer, State of New Jersey 
    • Melissa Kozakiewicz, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Jersey City