What is the future for urban living? As more and more people move to cities, engineers, scientists and designers will need radical new ideas to ensure they remain sustainable and healthy environments. London has moved a step closer towards becoming a global leader in future cities research today after UCL, Imperial College London and Cisco entered into a three year initial agreement to create a Future Cities Centre in the capital. Researchers within it will be working on how digital technologies can boost the capabilities of the energy, health, transport and utility resources in our cities.
The centre will be a physical space in Shoreditch where businesses, academics and start-ups can openly collaborate. It will be part of the Tech City region, the fastest growing technology cluster in Europe, and it will seek to bring a world-leading research presence and collaborative working to the emerging Tech City ecosystem.
The Future Cities Centre will focus on the thematic areas of Future Cities and Mobility, Smart Energy Systems, the Internet of Things and Business Model Innovation. It will form a major node of Cisco’s National Virtual Incubator, which is a sustainable public technology network that promises to stimulate entrepreneurship by connecting physical sites through IT infrastructure.
Under today’s agreement, new Research Associates from Imperial and UCL will share the new facilities, where they will embark on new research activities whilst also drawing on the institutions’ existing research excellence.
The Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “Today’s announcement is very important for Tech City, and for innovation in the UK more generally. Harnessing the extraordinary power of our research communities, and the innovation and commercialisation potential that comes from working with great companies likes Cisco, holds great potential for growth.”
UCL Engineering’s vision of a new urban environment was expressed by Prof. Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of UCL Engineering and Professor of Software Systems Engineering. He explained that, for us; “Future cities are where physical and virtual meet, and the challenges of engineering at that interface will be among those we hope to address in the centre. Getting this conjunction right, and harnessing the potential that emerges, will change the world for city dwellers – and the entire planet.”
The Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering already hosts a Doctoral Training Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience, where talented graduates and academics come together to work on urban issues with industrial partners. Biosecurity, smart infrastructure and the impact of climate change on housing are just some of the subjects our researchers pursue solutions to. The establishment of the Future Cities Centre will build on this expertise and allow us to learn from our talented contacts at Imperial, Cisco and beyond.