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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

An Innovation and Knowledge Centre funded by EPSRC and Innovate UK

Studying at Cambridge

 

Smart city systems

Current 'Smart City System's projects

1. Translucent City – transforming the use of underground space

2. Geospatial data analysis, 3D modelling and urban geoscience 

3. Transitioning Cities – enabling the evolution of smart cities

4. Plant it Green   

5. Growing Underground – urban farming

6. GrowGreen

7. Cambridge Futures 3:  Long-term land use and transport scenario tests to 2051 in Greater Cambridge using the LUISA model

 

1. Translucent City – transforming the use of underground space

Underground spaces are an increasingly precious commodity in land-constrained and highly populated cities. Currently, due to constrained access and a number of challenges, these spaces have been expanding in a piece-meal manner; the economics of underground infrastructure for transport, energy, water and waste require an understanding of multiple, overlapping networked industries. It is only by carefully examining the system of systems that cross-sectoral optimisation can be considered.

Translucent City is a collaborative research project that brings focus to the adaptability of underground spaces within densely populated cities. Led by CSIC, as part of a Global Alliance (University of Cambridge/CSIC, University of California, Berkeley, and National University of Singapore), the goal of this project is to develop new research to support novel, cross-sectoral design and urban standards that enable the seamless optimisation of physical and virtual infrastructure as a whole. The project supports the growth of innovation and new technologies in London, San Francisco and Singapore and there is potential to transform the environmental, social and economic functioning of cities worldwide.  Project contact is CSIC Investigator Dr Ruchi Choudhary.

 

2. Geospatial data analysis, 3D modelling and urban geoscience

Geospacial analysis is a six-month project with the British Geological Survey (BGS) to collaborate on the ongoing 'Translucent Cities' project (see above).  BGS has substantial information about geological conditions, and CSIC academics have a good understanding of land use and buildings above ground. In this project, the two resources are combined thus providing the ability to model integrated use of above and underground spaces at city-scales. There are two areas of focus.  The first, Greater London Land Viability, involves pattern recognition/statistical inference of above and below ground conditions.  Probabilistic spatial analysis will be used to infer correlations between near surface geological properties and underground and above-ground features, and the viability of extending utility of below ground spaces will be examined. For the second area of focus, the influence of above ground conditions and near surface anthropogenic structures (basements and subway tunnels) on geothermal properties of the ground will be analysed.  Project contact is CSIC Investigator Dr Ruchi Choudhary.

 

3. Transitioning Cities – enabling the evolution of smart cities

CSIC’s Ove Arup Foundation Programme for Transitioning Cities addresses the need for built environment professionals to be trained in a broader range of disciplines and tools to bridge infrastructure and city management solutions and optimise opportunities presented by the digital economy.  

Existing methods for assessing and analysing the operational needs of a city and the relationship with physical infrastructure are not ‘joined up’ and approaches to them may be in tension. Industry and city governments lack the tools to understand and interpret the current abundance of data in order to support smart cities’ decision-making processes and deliver best value from them.  The four-year programme will result in a series of graduate-level and executive-level educational modules. A competence framework for smart city professionals will be developed. The Transitioning Cities programme will be delivered by an interdisciplinary team of experts from CSIC. Project contact is CSIC Director Dr Jennifer Schooling.

 

4. Plant it Green                    

This is an Energy Efficient Cities Initiative (EECI) that aims to integrate hydroponics into the new Dyson Building on the Engineering site at the University of Cambridge to reduce building energy use and associated carbon emissions. The idea has won the Carbon Challenge Award, resulting in a grant of £24,000 which will fund hydroponic units, plants and sensors.

The team has recycled wooden pallets into modular units capable of supporting a hydroponics plant system. They utilised space on the rooftop to build a greenhouse for seedling growing space and will be collecting data on how different plants affect air quality characteristics in office spaces.

The plan is to install more of these hydroponics modules across each office floor, using them to grow vegetables and herbs, while simultaneously improving air quality and reducing the need to ventilate the space. This could save on energy and heat required for ventilation by up to 35 per cent and potentially reduce the Dyson Building's CO2 emissions by 74 tonnes. This project brings expertise from urban farming projects being developed by the EECI team.  Project contact is CSIC Investigator Dr Ruchi Choudhary

 

5. Growing Underground – urban farming

CSIC Co-Investigator Dr Ruchi Choudhary, head of the Energy Efficient Cities initiative (EECi) at the Department of Engineering, is working with Growing Underground, the award-winning urban farming facility that grows micro greens and salad leaves in tunnels 120ft below the busy streets of Clapham in London. grow2rs.jpgThe aim of Growing Underground is to bring edible crop production to the heart of the city while minimising the carbon impact of food transportation. CSIC collaborators have installed a range of instrumentation, including wireless sensors (built by CSIC) and web cams that monitor temperature, humidity, C02, air velocity and light, in a section of the former air raid tunnel that is currently being used for growing crops. Data identifies optimum growing conditions and enables the business to work towards carbon neutral certification. Ventilation is the chief energy consumer at the Growing Underground project and monitoring data has enabled adjustments that have cut consumption by 50 per cent without affecting yield.  This case study will provide information to create a baseline model tool for integrating urban farming into derelict space.  Project contact is CSIC Investigator Dr Ruchi Choudhary.       

 

6. GrowGreen

GROW GREEN brings together partner cities of Manchester (UK), Valencia (Spain), Wroclaw (Poland) and Wuhan (China) and the follower cities Lille (France), Zadar (Croatia) and Modena (Italy). The cities will demonstrate a replicable approach for the development and implementation of city-scale nature based solution (NBS) strategies. All cities already experience flooding and heat stress, with projections for these issues to increase due to climate change and ongoing development        

Working in complex, resource constrained urban environments, the municipalities for each city have committed to delivering joined-up, cost-effective, smart solutions to address these and other urban challenges. They recognise that the cities of the future will need to achieve more with less resources and deliver genuine sustainable development that realises a broad range of social, economic and environmental objectives.

Through demonstration projects, GROW GREEN will provide the platform for a step change in the way that NBS are embedded in the long-term planning, development, operation and management of cities around the world. Cambridge's role is on advising modelling strategies for proposed NBS solutions.  Project contact is CSIC Co-Investigator Dr Ruchi Choudhary

 

7. Cambridge Futures 3:  Long-term land use and transport scenario tests to 2051 in Greater Cambridge using the LUISA model

The LUISA modelling software, developed at the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies of Cambridge University, will track the alternative pathways of growth in the Greater Cambridge area until 2051.  The study area includes Cambridgeshire and has capabilities to cover the entire Greater Cambridgeshire-Greater Peterborough (GCGP) mayoral authority as well as the rest of the UK.  This areal definition will include possible further expansions of commuting, service and leisure catchments to 2051 and account for the accumulative impacts of nationally important infrastructure.

Drivers, including prices, rents, environmental amenity and consumer wellbeing, are used to estimate the amount of commercial and residential development in the next decade, subject to scenario inputs to the model (planning and environmental constraints and investments in infrastructure and services). LUISA uses a spatial social accounting matrix to represent the effects of investment, employment and multipliers on the local economy.  It models the choices of business premises and homes based on the principles of spatial equilibrium.  A model calibrated to represent the choice and trade-off behaviours of the employers and residents will then predict their responses to future policy, planning and transport interventions.

LUISA is an advancement on previous software and introduces innovative ways to model property rents and traffic congestion using new online data sources.  The LUISA model offers a competitive edge in identifying and exploring best ways to harness resources and support economic growth. Project contact is CSIC Investigator Dr Ruchi Choudhary.