CLEMSON, South Carolina — Most participants at the Global City Teams Challenge in Washington, D.C., will present new smart technology concepts in binders or on digital displays, but very few will bring their concepts on four wheels. The Clemson University Sullivan Center mobile health clinic will roll into the event Monday to act as a centerpiece among many organizations exhibiting smart city projects and solutions from around the world.

Sullivan Center staff will share the mobile clinic’s many features with companies, universities and government agencies concerned with advances in technology that benefit people and communities. Paula Watt, director of the Sullivan Center, said the event’s organizers saw the center’s outreach work and the mobile clinic’s groundbreaking features as perfect fits for the expo.

“We’re both honored and excited to represent Clemson at this event that will feature cutting-edge technology that is improving people’s lives across the globe,” Watt said. “It didn’t take long for the organizers to realize our mobile unit has even more going for it than just solar power, and we’re ready to show those features off.”

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The mobile clinic’s interior walls can be moved to create reception and exam rooms or to accommodate up to 20 people in a single space.
Image Credit: Clemson University

The expo is organized around the work of project teams dubbed “superclusters” that bring together organizations and innovators. Derick Lee is founder and chief architect of PilotCity, an organization dedicated to building civic innovation through the development of smart city platforms. Lee is an industry leader serving as co-chair of the Utility Supercluster focused on Energy, Waste and Water.

Lee said the mobile clinic’s solar capabilities alone were enough to warrant its inclusion in the supercluster. When parked, the clinic draws 100 percent of its power from a special solar battery system, which eliminates the noise and fumes from a traditional generator and decreases operation and maintenance costs. However, he said other clinic features, such as its incinerator toilet and 300-gallon water tank, check even more boxes for inclusion in the supercluster.

Lee said the supercluster encourages the cross pollination of ideas between organizations and individual projects to discover best practices and lessons learned. The supercluster is a networking opportunity, workshop and venue to push boundaries all rolled into one, so Lee sought a piece of technology that would serve as a focal point for it that would inspire and exemplify its aims.

“The mobile clinic will be the centerpiece of our pavilion because showing examples of the types of innovations our supercluster is working toward is incredibly important,” Lee said. “It will be right in people’s faces and attract them to concepts that might inspire further innovation for similar projects or something completely different.”

Watt will attend the expo with Logan McFall, health extension agent at the Sullivan Center; Anita Chambers, founder and CEO of Odulair, the mobile clinic’s manufacturer; and Rajendra Singh, D. Houser Banks professor of electrical and computer engineering at Clemson.

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Sen. Thomas Alexander (left), the Clemson Tiger, Anita Chambers and Paula Watt celebrate the unveiling of the Sullivan Center’s mobile clinic in November 2016.
Image Credit: Clemson University

The Sullivan Center primarily uses the mobile health clinic in Upstate South Carolina, but it also ventures across the state to reach underserved populations and provide valuable educational experiences to Clemson students. The clinic was made possible by state support led by South Carolina Sen. Thomas Alexander. It is the most ambitious project to date for Odulair, which has built dozens of mobile clinics for other organizations, such as the Mandela Kids Foundation in Africa.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Global City Teams Challenge consists of a network of 130-plus action clusters that are project teams of smart city applications across the world. There are currently five superclusters, which are cross-sector teams developing blueprints for specific areas of focus such as utilities, public Wi-Fi, transportation, city dashboard and public safety. The program is conducted in partnership with other U.S. federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, International Trade Administration and National Telecommunications and Information Administration.