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Graduate Certificate in Urban Informatics

Today, a growing number of people live in cities, and these cities are better connected by digital technologies than ever before. These two trends are resulting in the emerging field of urban informatics, which encompasses innovations in the areas of urban analysis, civic technology, smart cities, and more.

Important Dates:

  • Current U-M students:  Admissions are accepted on a rolling basis. For a decision by the Fall term, students must apply by March 1, and for admissions in Winter, by December 1. Note that admissions decisions will not be made until final grades are recorded from at least one term of study at UM.

About the Certificate

Urban informatics is an interdisciplinary field of research and practice that uses information technology for the analysis, management, planning, inhabitation, and usability in cities. The Graduate Certificate in Urban Informatics introduces students to this field, and includes not only technical skills for technology development and data analysis, but also opportunities to explore the ethical, legal, and policy questions created by new urban technologies. The certificate program is centered on several interrelated areas of professional innovation:

  • Urban Analysis. In response to the proliferation of public and private data sources, urban stakeholders are hiring a growing number of analysts to conduct applied data analysis. A growing number of governments, nonprofit organizations, and consultants conduct a range of applied data analyses such as constructing neighborhood change indicators, analyzing the impact of revitalization policies, and expanding community organization access to urban data.
  • Civic Technology. In conjunction with the expansion of urban data analysis, many urban stakeholders are rethinking how they use information technology to foster improved governance outcomes. Cities have launched open data portals, which make information available to the public and to third-party software applications, often through application programming interfaces. Other efforts have focused on improving the design of public websites, fostering online participation, and streamlining online applications for public services.
  • Smart Cities. Digital technologies hold the potential to transform the analysis and management of urban infrastructure, and a growing number of cities and consultants have launched smart cities experiments to explore how. The Certificate program involves UM researchers are pursuing related projects such as the real-time monitoring and management of various infrastructure systems including stormwater and transportation networks. These projects also raise important questions of participation, privacy, and ethics.
  • Smart Citizens. Urban informatics innovations can increase the agency of individuals, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders. The accessibility, usability, and operation of many urban systems depend on the participation of these actors. Indeed their involvement is required to ensure new technologies are shaped to reflect social values. Thus social innovation in cities will increasingly require new forms of citizen interaction and technology design.
  • Existing Professions. In addition to preparing graduate students for these new areas of practice, the urban informatics certificate supports innovation within existing urban professional fields represented at Michigan such as urban planning, public policy, public health, information science, natural resources, civil and environmental engineering, architecture, and landscape architecture.

The Certificate includes five course requirements, for a total of 15 credits. See the requirements page for full information.

Extracurricular Activities

In addition to the coursework, several extracurricular activities also foster a community of inquiry among participating students, faculty, and staff.

Annual Conference:
Each year, a variety of related events are organized by students and faculty who participate in the certificate. These have included larger professional conferences, unconferences, and symposia.

Seminar Series:
The Certificate hosts occasional brownbag lunches and other events. To learn about them, join the urbaninformatics-announce MCommunity group to receive notices.

Certificate students will be encouraged to form teams to enter relevant competitions. Although these are still emerging for this field, they include the Global City Teams Challenge, the Smart City App Hack, and more. These opportunities will be circulated by email.

Student Organizations:
The U-M Smart Cities Club serves as the primary student organization for the certificate. In addition, Certificate students may be interested in the A2 Data Dive, which organizes an annual Data Dive event which brings together students to build data capacity among local nonprofit organizations.


The following faculty conduct teaching and research related to urban informatics and are participants in the Certificate Program:

Robert Goodspeed
Assistant Professor, Taubman College
Director, Graduate Certificate in Urban Informatics

Scott Campbell
Associate Professor, Taubman College

Tawanna Dillahunt
Assistant Professor, School of Information

Seth Guikema
Associate Professor, Industrial and Operations Engineering

Branko Kerkez
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Clifford Lampe
Associate Professor, School of Information

Mark Lindquist
Assistant Professor, School for Environment and Sustainability

Jerome Lynch
Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Malcolm McCullough
Professor, Taubman College

Joshua Newell
Assistant Professor, School for Environment and Sustainability

Joyojeet Pal
Assistant Professor, School of Information

Sarah Stoddard
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

Tiffany Veinot
Associate Professor, School of Information; Health Behavior and Health Education

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