SBIR Phase I: Computing-Assisted Zoning Optimization and Service

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Award Id:
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
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Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
1225 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC, 29201-5818
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Bonan Li
(803) 386-8709
Business Contact:
Bonan Li
(803) 386-8709
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to establish the foundation for developing a computation-assisted redistricting product. Redistricting or zoning is the process of dividing space into districts or zones while optimizing a set of criteria under various spatial constraints. Redistricting is an extremely challenging task that is commonly needed in many real-world problems, such as political/school redistricting, emergency zone design, service management, and business planning. Existing redistricting tools in the commercial market all employ a manual approach, which relies on the user to optimize various criteria in a trial-and-error manner. These manual tools are ineffective and extremely time-consuming to use. This project will build a prototype redistricting product based on a newly developed redistricting optimization algorithm and visual controls, which is much faster and more superior in optimization quality than existing algorithms, and for the first time offers the potential to meet end user requirements in an automated or semi-automated manner. The proposed project will (1) design a flexible architecture to systematically integrate a variety of optimization criteria in the new algorithm to address different needs; (2) significantly improve the computational scalability for handling large data set; and (3) evaluate the prototype product with real-world applications. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is that it could fundamentally change the way redistricting is performed in practice. Existing automated redistricting methods reported in academia do not meet practical needs, which is the reason that there is no product in the market that employs automated methods. With existing commercial tools, which are based on a manual approach, completing a redistricting task usually requires one or more full-time technicians working for months at a time. With the product being created from this project, even a non-technical user may generate a professional plan within minutes. Potential clients include governments (cities and counties), school districts, consulting firms who provide redistricting services, private businesses that need to optimize service delivery, and even general citizens who are interested in participating in redistricting decision making. The product targets the U.S. and international market, including both public and private sectors.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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