The term "smart cities" can be defined in different ways, but definitions almost always refer to using "smart" technology to improve various aspects of cities. In this context, GEO-C will use methods and approaches from Geoinformatics and its application areas to investigate open cities, i.e. smart cities that are open to all citizens and facilitate participation on all levels. A complex topic area such as smart and open cities clearly calls for an interdisciplinary and multi-perspective approach. GEO-C brings together key stakeholders from academia, industry, and government in a multi-disciplinary team (including, e.g., experts in spatiotemporal and environmental modelling, statistics, human-computer interaction, visualisation, information systems, mobile and ubiquitous computing, spatial learning, or decision support systems) under a coherent and effective structure.
The main goal of GEO-C is to make substantial scientific progress towards the notion of open cities, i.e. smart cities that are open to all citizens and facilitate participation on all levels. In order to achieve this, we will (i) train the next generation of smart city experts in a multi-disciplinary program, (ii) address key challenges of rapidly changing cities with novel participatory technologies, and (iii) facilitate the implementation of open cities via a an open source toolkit. The research questions of GEO-C will be tackled in three complementary strands. They are derived from the three core areas in research on open governance: participation, collaboration, transparency (cf. figure below). Each strand falls into one of the intersections between the core areas and covers a crucially important aspect for realising open cities: deep participation, analysis and fusion of city data, and city services (cf. table below).
|Research strand||Deep participation||Analysis and fusion||Services|
|Research questions||How to enable all citizens to participate in and benefit from smart cities?||How to determine quality of life and key performance indicators of smart cities?||How to realise fundamental services in smart cities?|
|Overarching questions||How to enable all stakeholders to contribute to smart cities? How to facilitate transparency and openness of all processes, decisions and data in smart open cities? What insights can be gained from open data on smart cities, and how to best make use of such data?|
|Key outcomes||Methods and approaches to realise smart and open cities, prototypically implemented in an open source toolkit to facilitate uptake; fifteen PhD graduates with necessary skills and expertise to drive realisation of smart and open cities.|
The three strands also correspond to the three main research work packages, which strongly interact to account for the interdependency of the topics. The strands are connected via the overarching research questions and the common goal of developing an open city toolkit (cf. figure below). This toolkit is a key element in ensuring the uptake of methods developed in GEO-C. Each of the fifteen individual PhD projects tackles specific research questions in one of the three strands.
While each PhD candidate is assigned to one of the three main research work packages, their work also draws on the other strands and contributes to a number of components in the toolkit.
The project will bring together three institutions that have a proven track record in complementary research areas of Geoinformatics with city councils and companies from three European countries. These associated partners will play a key role in shaping the open city toolkit and the underlying research. They will host one-month internships of the ESRs during their first year and support the requirements analysis for the open city toolkit. In addition, they will apply and use research outcomes in the development of their services and products. This will ensure that the topic of ‘open cities’ is tackled from multiple perspectives, that outcomes are relevant in practice and in academia, and that PhD researchers will acquire key skills to drive the implementation of open cities.