Intel invests in UK institute to create global centre for research in sustainable connected cities
May 25, 2012 // Julien Happich
Intel has announced the launch of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities in partnership with two of the world's leading universities, Imperial College London and University College London.
The new London-based institute will be Intel’s first research centre and global hub dedicated to exploring how technology can support and sustain the social and economic development of cities worldwide. It will also collaborate with the emerging Tech City cluster in East London, using the social media expertise of Tech City-based start-ups to identify and analyse emerging trends within cities. The launch of the centre was unveiled at an event in 10 Downing Street, bringing together key decision makers and influencers from academia, industry and government. Simultaneously, Intel Labs Europe launched the Intel Labs Europe UK R&D network.
Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities will be a core member of the newly formed Intel Labs Europe UK R&D network. It will consist of nine R&D locations including London, Brighton, Swindon and Aylesbury, with further locations to be added by the end of 2012. The R&D network has been established to facilitate further collaboration between Intel and the UK R&D community and will act as a subset of Intel Labs Europe, focusing on research areas such as information security and high performance computing.
The new London based institute aims to address the social, economic, and environmental challenges of city life with computing technology, helping to provide practical solutions to problems ranging from droughts and long commute times to wasteful use of energy. Using London as a test bed, researchers will explore technologies to make cities more aware by harnessing real-time user and city infrastructure data. For example, a sensor network could be used to monitor traffic flows and predict the effects of extreme weather conditions on water supplies, resulting in the delivery of near real-time information to citizens through citywide displays and mobile applications.
“In 2050, most of the nine billion people in the world will live in cities,” says Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer and director of Intel Labs. “Therefore the demands of cities will be highly representative of the demands of humanity. Addressing these demands will be at the heart of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities, driving the development of new services to enhance people’s quality of life.”
The Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities is part of Intel’s new worldwide Intel Collaborative Research Institute program, also launched today. The new program aims to drive and fund collaborative university research to fuel global innovation and help address some of today’s greatest challenges across fields such secure computing, visual computing and computational intelligence. Three such institutes have been launched this week, which also includes new collaborations in Germany and Israel.
“Now, more than ever, it is vital that universities collaborate with each other and with businesses on projects such as this,” says Prof. Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost Enterprise at University College London. “Delivering research which can be taken out of the lab and onto the market, creating new business opportunities and jobs, and contributing to the growth to the UK economy we so urgently need.”
The institute in London will initially employ about a dozen researchers focused on the application of computing technologies to enhance cities from a social, economic and environmental point of view. The institute will engage with local urban communities to understand how they want to live and involve them in designing technological innovations. These innovations will include making cities more 'aware and adaptive’ by harnessing data gathered through sensor technologies embedded in city infrastructure and data shared by communities. The institute will use this data to develop models for more sustainable behaviour, including community energy management or water conservation. The institute will also explore how fixed and mobile sensors across the city, and intelligent connected vehicles, can be used in the collection of weather, emission and traffic flow data, for use by city planners in the development of more sustainable cities in the future.
“The Institute could enable us to make all kinds of intelligent systems a reality in cities,” says Edward Astle, Pro Rector Enterprise at Imperial College London. “One example of how our research could work in practice is where there is a major leak from a water supply, flooding the roads. We could introduce a network of sensors that would detect the leak, divert the flow of water to prevent more damage and wirelessly transmit information to transport authorities so that traffic could be diverted, preventing congestion and general city-wide disruption.”
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