On Purdue’s 153rd Anniversary, the Discovery Park District Advances a Community Based Digital Trust Initiative

The words on the Discovery Park District at Purdue University’s website immediately lead us to associate the District with fierce innovation and sustainable growth. Not surprising, given that the district is located in West Lafayette at the doorstep of Purdue University, which celebrates its 153rd anniversary today. But what exactly is the District and why do you need to find out now? 

John Purdue established Purdue University in 1869 as a land grant university under the Morrill Act of 1863 that was signed by Abraham Lincoln as the United States was transitioning economically from an agrarian age towards an industrial one.  The original mission of these institutions was to teach agriculture, military tactics, and the mechanic arts as well as classical studies so members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education in living better lives.  Leveraging this tradition, the District seeks to be a place to live, work, play, and learn in practical ways as a connected community of residents, students, faculty, innovators, and companies in transition towards a more digital age.

More than five years ago, property development started across the District as part of an integrated master plan across 400+ acres on the west side of the Purdue campus.  In addition to physical placemaking, leaders for the District began to pursue digital placemaking by implementing a “utility-like” connectivity infrastructure comprised of ubiquitous fiber, IOT,  edge/cloud compute – to advance high speed networks .  This real-world environment next to a world-class research university is rapidly becoming an applied test-bed called “Lab To Life” for evaluating new tech technologies and innovations in a community environment.

Digital Trust Initiative @ Discovery Park District

With potential to accelerate growth and create an example for innovation districts worldwide, the District was recognized as a greenfield opportunity to create a digital ecosystem where the community members (residents, students, and businesses) have much more agency over their digital environment.  Under the newly announced Digital Trust Initiative, the District’s stakeholders are engaging the residence, tenants, and visitors to solidify a sense of community and generate a shared vision for the future. These ingredients help craft a resident-centric technology governance framework rooted in community trust.

Smart. High Tech. Dynamic. The vision is not based on some idealistic community model of the future.  It is also not about a bunch of wild and crazy scientists, engineers, and innovators pursuing technology for technology’s-sake.  Instead, the vision is to create a practical framework for the safe and wise evaluation and adoption of technology that positively impacts the sense of place and quality of life for the residents and tenants of the District.  This requires establishing digital trust across the District through transparent engagement for the adoption and use of technology.  Given the dynamic evolution of the digital world, the District must remain nimble and agile to adapt as it attracts and nourishes the technologies of the future – not all of which will be successful. 

The District, Lab To Life test-bed, and Digital Trust Initiative are all expanding upon the original mission of the university in creating a connected, learning community, and adding to the legacy of Purdue as one of the premier land grant universities in the country.  Boiler Up!

Coming up next…

The District is working to empower innovators – individuals and companies – to advance digital solutions through a new resident-centric data governance framework. In doing so, the District also remains aligned with Purdue University’s standard of leading innovation and heralding discovery that improves the world. The framework will set up oversight for the deployment of smart technologies across the District and provide guidelines for ethical technology and data usage. Through the process of creating this framework, the District stakeholders expect to gain insights, overcome challenges, and discover best practices. These lessons learned will be broadly shared with other innovation districts and smart communities.

Stay connected to the district’s Digital Trust Initiative by filling out this form.