Cities are complex systems that are difficult to understand without the right information. But we increasingly have the technology to record, store and analyse all kinds of data and we can use it to make our cities better places to live in.
Future Cities Catapult worked with Intel Collaborative Research Institute (which includes Intel Laboratories, UCL and Imperial College), The Royal Parks, the London Borough of Enfield, ScienceScope and City Insights to collect and use real city data.
We’ve created five “living laboratories” across London – at Hyde Park, Brixton, Enfield, Elephant and Castle and Tower Bridge – where sensors measure a range of physical parameters, including air quality and human activity.
Using data from these living labs, we increased our knowledge of the most important city problems that need to be solved. By having our team of expert data scientists analyse this information, we teased out vital insights that can be used to understand how people use infrastructures. We also used these findings to assess the impact that cities themselves have on human health, wellbeing and the natural environment.
From there, developed new solutions to problems that are really affecting our built spaces. That could include anything from apps that tell asthmatics how to navigate the city with minimum exposure to air pollution, through new business models that allow our green spaces to prosper in the face of uncertain funding, to providing evidence to justify the business cases for new technologies and infrastructure, to improve human health in the long-term.
In addition, we worked with the public to understand how our sensors can integrate better into city surroundings – be that blending in or proudly sharing their findings – as well as using them to test innovations, by tracking impact in real time. In the future, we’ll grow the networks, creating a web that includes everything from simple, affordable sensors on every street corner to the most accurate devices in the country – and everything in between.