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Smart cities could see heated pavements, congestion-avoiding cars, mortgage-free living and citizens voting for libraries


A CGI image showing connectivity and information flowing down hi-tech cables

Conference will discuss ways cities can evolve post-covid

Imagine a world in which the car you drive to work already knows which roads are congested, where the pavements you walk on during winter are free of snow and ice because they’re ‘heated’ and where no-one has to get a mortgage in order to buy a house.

It might sound like science fiction but many of these projects have already been tested, while others are already in use.

They all come under the umbrella term ‘smart cities’ and are examples of projects which aim to improve our way of living, some using technology and others by re-imagining economic models.

At their heart, smart cities prioritises better access to service, increased efficiency while minimising waste, all while promoting inclusivity and equality. The current covid pandemic has already seen one aspect of smart cities brought into sharp focus: the need to use big data to track spread of the disease.

A conference entitled Smart Cities in Times of Pandemics on February 19 (1pm-4pm GMT) will bring together experts in artificial intelligence and data from across the world, including from the University of Bradford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America and Toulouse Business School in France.

The University of Bradford’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Zahir Irani will deliver a keynote speech, with additional presentations from big data analytics expert Professor Samuel Fosso Wamba (Visiting Professor at University of Bradford), who works at Toulouse Business School and MIT’s Kent Larson, the world’s leading expert on smart cities.

Meanwhile, business leaders such as Daniel Dubois, co-founder at Key, a Canadian real estate enterprise with a new model for home ownership, will also be speaking. University of Bradford’s Professor Vishanth Weerakkody, Dean of the Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences and Professor of Digital Governance, will deliver an address entitled The Transformative Influence of Smart Cities: Experiences from Five European Projects. And Resident Entrepreneur from MIT Julius O. Akinyemi will also speak.

Bradford’s Professor Sankar Sivarajah, who is also speaking at the event, explained its significance: “Smart cities are all about the use of resources for greater good of society. What we are doing in terms of research is promoting responsible management and using technology to create a more inclusive society.

“On a practical level, it means creating things like ‘smart paths’ [heated pavements], using renewable energy, looking at environmental waste issues and using big data. Many of the projects which will be discussed at the conference have already been tested in cities around the world. Our job now is to look at good practice from this research and the possibility of collaborative research and ultimately commercialisation and implementation, to the point where businesses and local government can make use of these ideas.”

Projects (funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative) include:-

  • EMPATIA: enabling citizens to vote for local resources, such as libraries or parks, with the most popular given funding. The idea was piloted in cities based in Portugal, Germany, Italy and Czech Republic
  • Live CIty: a system trialed across cities such as Dublin, Ireland which shares live video streams from paramedics and first responders to surgeons based in a hospital, who are then able to offer life-saving advice
  • DAREED: a ‘smart meter’-style dashboard allowing local authorities to get live data from energy grids in a bid to help manage usage. The scheme was tested in pilot cities such as Cambridgeshire UK, and Seville, Spain. 

Many of the ideas use concepts taught at the University of Bradford, including the Bachelors in applied AI (Faculty of Engineering & Informatics) and the MSc applied AI (School Management).

Find out more about the event.

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