How can 6.5 billion people live in the cities in the future?

A new international collaboration is to innovate future urban development to ensure that it is centred on people and makes everyday life easier by linking urban development with wireless technology in a completely new way.

Professor Michael Goodsite, Head of Department, Aarhus University in Herning, has been appointed to represent Denmark as vice chair of the international collaboration: COST Action, under the theme: People Friendly Cities in a Data Rich World. The objective is to identify the optimum urban development in the future, with cities that are efficient, sustainable and pleasant to live in.

? In 2008, the percentage of people living in urban areas surpassed those living in rural communities. These trends are expected to continue, and the United Nations estimates that over 70% of the world's population will be living in towns and cities by 2050. We therefore need to consider what the cities should look like and how life in them should be in the future, says Professor Michael Goodsite.

People-centred urban development
The objective is to work with urban development that does not merely take infrastructure, houses and streets into account, but is centred on people and the needs they have.  This should then be linked with the wireless technology we already surround ourselves with, such as mobile phones, iPads, laptops etc., and contribute to making everyday life easier for all city dwellers.

Linking urban development with wireless technology is a completely new concept – for example knowing when and where people move around in a city, and interactively mapping their activities, wants and conduct. So far, urban design has typically focused on developing infrastructure and buildings based on so-called 'Victorian' building principles, where everything was divided into different administrations – as we see it in many municipalities today.  The new concept therefore goes beyond the 'Smart City' concept and explores the dual concept of smart AND liveable cities – i.e. optimising the cities based on people's conduct and promoting new ways of thinking within, for example, home/working/living areas.

The urban development work takes place in collaboration with leading architects, engineers, sociologists, computer scientists, researchers and city professionals from all over Europe, who together will come up with their ideas for how best to develop the cities in the future – and how to make the city as we know it more efficient and people friendly. Here focus will, among other things, be on:

  • How do people use the city?
  • What impact will various initiatives have on the environment?
  • How do we ensure better processes for, for instance, waste management and resource optimisation?
  • What can be done to develop the transport area?

Many of the initiatives will focus on the efficient use of resources and carbon reduction in response to the climate change taking place.

Denmark's contribution to the collaboration
Due to his extensive experience within the climate field and his interdisciplinary expertise, Professor Michael Goodsite has been appointed vice chair. Michael Goodsite, who has a BSc in Civil Engineering, an MSc in Environmental Engineering, and a PhD in Climate and Atmospheric Chemistry, is the Centre Director of the Nordic Center of Excellence for ??Strategic Adaptation Research??. Moreover, he has been chairman of a European Science Foundation working group on interdisciplinary collaboration. Academically, he has worked with both the atmospheric environment and climate in cities as well as with future buildings. He will contribute to the collaboration with his expertise on the link between design and impact on the environment and climate – as menstioned earlier, a completely new way of linking these concepts.

? COST Action is an incredibly exciting collaboration, with experts from all over Europe pooling their knowledge in order to come up with new solutions to matters that concern all of us and our future lives, says Professor Michael Goodsite, who has high expectations for the partnership.

In collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, Aarhus University has applied for and been granted funding within a framework of up to EUR 44 million for the transport and urban development work.  Each country participating in the COST cooperation is eligible for part of the funding if they want to participate in the problem solving. The COST Action is managed by Trinity College Dublin with Professor Mark Dyer as chair.

In addition to Michael Goodsite, Anne Gammelgaard Jensen from Aarhus University and Allan Gross also participate as experts. The other representative from Denmark in the COST Action is Professor Hans Kiib, Aalborg University.

COST is an intergovernmental framework that includes 35 member countries. This allows researchers from these countries to participate in science and technology networks called COST Actions. COST – European Cooperation in Science and Technology – allows the coordination of nationally funded research on a European level. Read more about the nine key domains under COST.

The United Nations estimates that approx. 6.5 billion people of a total expected population of 9.2 billion will be living in towns and cities by 2050.

COST Action: Transport and Urban Development (TUD) collaborates, among other things, with the EcoSense project, also under Aarhus University, which is working on developing technologies to measure, analyse and reduce everyone's carbon footprint.

For further information

Professor Michael Ewan Goodsite
Aarhus University, School of Business and Social Sciences,
AU Herning
Direct phone:  +45 87 16 47 47
Mobile phone:  +45 60 11 25 57