EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Urban Science and Progress

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Computer Science

Abstract

This century is set to be the century of the city. Ever-increasing urbanisation is proceeding against a backdrop of advances in digital technologies and data availability and analysis, which are having profound effects on the ways that the future of cities is unfolding. Emerging from this intersection of urban growth and 'big data' is the discipline of urban science which can assist governments, industry and citizens to move beyond imperfect understanding and use data to undertake tasks such as optimising operations (e.g. service delivery, traffic flow), monitoring the condition of infrastructure (e.g. bridge conditions, water leaks), planning new, more efficient, infrastructure (e.g. public transport, utilities provision), responding to abnormal conditions (e.g. hazard detection, emergency management), developing new and effective policies (e.g. road pricing, energy efficient buildings), enhancing economic performance and, informing and communicating with citizens to improve quality of life.

This Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) is designed to play a leading role in the emergence and development of urban science. It will establish urban science as a field of study and focus of scientific inquiry. This new field needs trained cross-disciplinary researchers, who have the skills to integrate diverse branches of knowledge to address a range of important current and future policy drivers. It will build capacity within the UK HE sector to deliver novel solutions in the urban science domain, both nationally and internationally. Importantly, it will do so in an interdisciplinary environment, e.g. by exploiting synergies between computer science, engineering, mathematics and social science. Solutions to urban issues require a tri-partied relationship between academia, public bodies and the private sector. This CDT will work alongside government agencies and industry partners in the UK and abroad. The importance of urban science and appropriate cross-disciplinary research is central to our CDT approach. The potential benefits and impact are listed by the leader of Birmingham City Council as including "mak[ing] a real difference to tens of thousands of Birmingham residents", "saving £Ms in operating costs", and "deliver[ing] a legacy of change through the training of individuals who have real expertise in their area". The deputy mayor of New York states that the centre can "develop scientific solutions that will have direct impact on billions of the world's population."

This CDT provides a UK training environment that is part of a wider international programme, which offers training alongside international city experts, and benefits from the support of leading industry practitioners. No one in the world is tackling urban challenges at this scale. By leading the research agenda on the science of cities, educating the next generation of experts in how to apply that research, bringing innovative ideas to a world market, and creating new, fast-growing industry solutions and the many jobs that go with them, this UK-led CDT will be at the centre of the global stage in this field.

The CDT will adopt a 1+3 (MSc+PhD) training model that is high-quality and rigourous, to produce multiple cohorts of successful, highly-employable graduates. It promotes an international student experience; students will work alongside a larger student cohort from NYU, CUNY, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Toronto and IIT Mumbai; it allows our students unprecedented access, in the UK and overseas, to existing city operations, to utilize existing and newly emerging data streams, and to explore and deploy novel urban sensors; it enables students to work alongside industry luminaries, leaders in public service and citizens, to understand, measure and improve urban systems; and it provides value for money to the UK through 50+ PhDs who will receive discipline-defining training from world-class institutions.

Planned Impact

According to UN forecasts, by 2030 the number of city dwellers will have reached 5 billion; city inhabitants already consume 75% of the planet's natural resources; urban activities are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, and all this happens on 2% of the global land mass.

"The CDT would provide EPSRC-funded PhD students with an unprecedented opportunity to work with industry experts and alongside our city officials on real-world urban science problems. Seldom have so many international academic institutions, leading businesses and city agencies been focused on one activity; seldom has the opportunity arisen to develop scientific solutions that will have direct impact on billions of the world's population." [Deputy Mayor New York City, June 2013]

Through Warwick's partnership with CUSP and through local cross-disciplinary research expertise, this CDT provides a training environment that is part of a wider international programme, that offers training alongside international city experts, and that benefits from the support of top industry practitioners. By leading the research agenda on the science of cities, educating the next generation of engineers in how to apply that research, bringing innovative ideas to a world market, and creating new, fast-growing industry solutions and the many jobs that go with them, this UK-led CDT will be at the centre of the global stage in this field.

This CDT aims to impact:

Students: Students will have a unique international experience - working alongside a larger student cohort from NYU, CUNY, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Toronto and IIT Mumbai. Students will work alongside industry luminaries, leaders in public service and citizens, both in the UK and overseas, to understand, measure and improve urban systems. Students will have secondments to industry and city partners and they will receive discipline-defining training from six world-class academic institutions.

Government: "This CDT has the potential to make a real difference to tens of thousands of Birmingham residents; it has the potential to change the way in which the Council operates, potentially saving £Ms in operating costs; it has the potential to deliver a legacy of change through the training of individuals who have real expertise in their area; it has the potential to generate translational solutions that will generate jobs and business revenue in the area." Sir Albert Bore, Leader, Birmingham City Council.

Civil agencies: "The centre, bringing together as it does, these other academic international centres of excellence and strategically important corporate partners, would be an important step forward to understanding and confronting the many pressing challenges posed by urban living." Paul Jervis, Head of Communication Intelligence Unit, Metropolitan Police

Industry: "We anticipate an ongoing need to hire significant numbers of people with the kinds of skills that will be developed by this CDT. Given that our numbers represent just one IT vendor, the need for skilled PhD level people in this domain becomes easy to identify.", IBM. The CDT will also produce targeted industry-related research through MSc and PhD projects.

Economy: The Department for Business Innovation and Skills estimate that the global market for integrated citywide solutions is £200bn a year. The opportunities for knowledge transfer between countries and continents are also significant; there are well over 1,000 cities in the world with populations in excess of 500,000.

General public: Through outreach activities, citizen science events, a public understanding of urban science conference, international engagement, open cities events and TEDxCity2.0 activities, we will engage with the wider public on urban science and technology and its impact on society.

Publications


10 25 50