IFE Catapult Grant: Mitigating Urban Heat

We have received funding from the Institute for Future Environments Catapult research funding program at QUT.

Mitigating Urban Heat: Developing a Climate Smart Toolkit for Liveable, Sustainable Precincts to Address Environmental Monitoring and Better Building Design

Urban heat islands (UHI) are a major contributor to increasing global warming, which are metropolitan areas that are significantly warmer than their surrounding rural areas. Land temperatures in densely developed city centres can be as much as 10 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding forested landscape. Besides increased energy needs, UHI effects urge urban planners to reconsider the design and energy assessments of buildings in urban areas due to the storage and release of heat energy. Increasing temperatures also contribute to serious health issues, e.g., through the transmission of infectious diseases, which diminishes the liveability in UHI areas.

We propose to study the mechanisms of UHI and the impact of mitigation strategies on the built environment taking a data-centric approach. We will design a toolkit for the development process using the Northshore Hamilton precinct as our testbed . The toolkit, a Climate Smart Precinct in a Box, will be transferable across multiple precincts and adaptable to local conditions in each precinct. Our goal is to build a scalable model that leverages open source technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensing environments, data sharing models, and advanced analytics to address the issue of urban heat for more liveable and sustainable communities. To achieve this, we follow a methodology that is divided into two parts, technology and people, and has five components: data collection, data analysis, develop insights, design patterns, and impact.

Methodology to develop a Climate Smart Precinct in a Box

First, we plan to collect sensor data to measure different types of data such as temperature, solar radiation, humidity, and wind speed velocity, which will be realized through the implementation of LoRaWAN-enabled environmental monitoring systems provided by Meshed , an IoT technology provider. Second, we will integrate and analyse data using UrbanPulse, an IoT analytics platform provided by [ui!] . We will employ an open standards approach to design an advanced data visualisation interface. Third, we will develop actionable insights through workshops, focus groups, and interviews with key stakeholders. Fourth, we will leverage the insights in other locations and develop a policy informatics framework through an abstraction of the insights and a development of design patterns. This will help to reiterate the process and share design knowledge. Finally, we will be able to measure and evaluate the impact of the Climate Smart Precinct in a Box as it pertains to reducing UHI effects effectively and efficiently.

Collaborators: Kenan Degirmenci, Veronica Garcia- Hansen, Sara Omrani, Laurie Buys, Catherine Caruana-McManus, Simon Kaplan, Lutz Heuser, Thom Saunders, and Ray Johnson

Fragile Cities in the Developed World: A Conceptual Framework

J. David Selby (PhD Candidate, School of Public AffairsArizona State University) and I have an article accepted in Cities.

Abstract: Cities, like any complex adaptive systems, may become increasingly fragile if not properly managed. To date, the literature has focused primarily on the examination of cities within fragile countries. This has resulted in a dearth of studies that have looked at how developed (or even advanced) cities that operate in relatively stable countries and/or environments might allow unresolved issues to accumulate in the city: degrading its ability to function. Studying fragility in developed cities is a worthwhile undertaking given their economic, social, and political significance. This paper puts forth a conceptual framework to understand the nature of fragile cities in the developed world. Our framework frames fragility as a function of unresolved fractures of social compacts that degrades a city’s ability to function over time and stress exacerbates its effects. Drawing on over two dozen incidents from developed cities, we ground the framework and illustrate its value.

To download a copy of the paper, please visit SSRN.


Mechanics for the Future – Salzburg Global Forum

Credit: Salzburg Global Seminar/Ela Grieshaber.

I am looking forward to participating in the Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? session at the Salzburg Global Forum.

Governments worldwide are under pressure to meet complex needs as populations age, countries urbanize, and technology transforms lives and work. They have lead responsibility to prepare their societies for a radically changing world, yet face shrinking budgets and declining trust in the public sector. The machinery of government has changed, requiring governments to transform themselves, both in terms of the methodology they use and the people needed to implement the change.  What is the role of government in driving innovation?  How can countries and cities learn from each other?  How can governments recruit and retain the best people in public service with the right skills?  How can governments better harness the market, and strengthen constructive partnerships with civil society and the private sector?  What types of public communication work best to rebuild public trust?

See here for a list of attendees.

As part of the meeting, I will be leading a discussion on the potential for advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to transform how we govern. We will employ a case study that I co-authored with Richard T. Watson (Regents Professor and the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy, University of Georgia). The case study takes place in a country, Intelligensia, and is focused on deploying AI systems to modernize the national healthcare system and improve quality of life outcomes.

Visiting Professor – Università Bocconi, March 2018

I will be spending time at the Università Bocconi during March 2018 as a Visiting Professor. I will deliver several lectures as part of the Innovation and Big Data in the Public Sector course taught by my colleague, Prof. Maria Cucciniello. In addition, I will be working on several research projects with colleagues in Milan.

Europe Research Visit – France, Belgium, England

I will be visiting colleagues at Audencia Business School (France), University of Antwerp (Belgium), and Lancaster University (England) over the next couple of weeks. During my visit, I will deliver several public lectures, attend research forums,  and work on collaborative research projects.


Audencia Business School - Research presentation: November 13, 2017
Antwerp Management School – Research presentation: November 15, 2017; IT Governance Discussion with Graduate Students
Lancaster University Management School – Research presentation: November 16, 2017; Centre for Technological Futures Round Table

Beijing Universities – Technological Innovation and the Public

I will be giving research presentations at Renmin University (School of Public Administration and Policy) and Beijing Forestry University (School of Humanities and Social Sciences) on November 3, 2017

Technological Innovation and the Public: 3Ps - Purpose, Process, and Products

Technological innovations are fundamentally transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. Studying complex phenomena requires us to undertake research that 1) draws on multiple disciplines, 2) engages a diverse group of stakeholders, 3) appreciates a plurality of research approaches, and 4) generates actionable solutions. Executing inter-disciplinary research is no easy feat to accomplish. Researchers face daunting challenges from the onset; beginning with the inception of ideas, continuing to the crafting of problem statements, executing the research process, and then communicating the results via publications in academic and practitioner outlets. However, these challenges should not be viewed as an excuse to abandon inter-disciplinary research in favor of narrowly focused research exercises. Drawing on over a dozen research projects, this presentation will highlight key strategic management challenges confronting public agencies as they try to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovations. Opportunities for use-inspired research will be discussed. In addition, I will present a working model for executing inter-disciplinary research that has served me well. I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way.

2017 Global Cities Forum, China Institute for Urban Governance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

I am looking forward to my upcoming trip to Shanghai. I will deliver a keynote address at the 2017 Global Cities Forum hosted by the China Institute for Urban Governance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The Smart City Bandwagon: Have We Lost our Way?

Cities around the world are investing significant resources to transform themselves into smarter (more intelligent) entities. While there is no doubt that these efforts are important and valuable, I am troubled with how these efforts have evolved. Too often, I see efforts that focus predominantly on the technical and data elements of the equation, without much care to how they impact the social, economic, and civic elements. Drawing on my recent research, I will argue that we need to reframe the dominant conversation on smart cities. Cities across the globe have become more fragile over the last few years. Infrastructure, economic, social, political, and civic elements impact the level of fragility in a city. We need to focus our conversation on how we can use technology for social good to address issues such as a preserving and strengthening the social compact, implementing technical solutions responsibly, and designing governance frameworks that account for a diversity of interests, aspirations, and values. I will outline design practices to reflect upon as we work toward making our communities more livable, just, sustainable, and resilient. As John Christopher Jones reminds us " design everything on the assumption that people are not heartless or stupid but marvelously capable, given the chance.