€2.3m funding for research on city technology
An Irish-based professor has won €2.3 million in funding from the European Research Council to examine how technology is influencing the cities in which we live.
Prof Rob Kitchin, who is director of the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis at NUI Maynooth, will head the five-year research project.
The Programmable Cities project is to examine a number of different areas, including how information is captured on citizens and places, how such data is processed and how behaviour within a city is influenced by different software systems – from traffic management to security.
“Software is now essential to the functioning of cities, a vital element in the operation and governance of travel, the built environment, consumption, work, home life, services and utilities, and the project will address a serious gap in social science research by answering key questions concerning the nature of software and how it is reshaping how we understand, manage, work and live in the city,” Prof Kitchin said.
The €2.3 million award will fund the recruitment of a specialised team of four post-doctoral researchers and four PhD students. The research team will be based primarily at NUI Maynooth, with some overseas fieldwork required.
The team will examine how digital technologies are being used to tackle everyday issues and to what extent software changes how places function and how people behave. It will also look at how, increasingly, software and digital sensors are being embedded into everyday environments.
Retail companies, for example, use data collected on products, staff and customers to monitor stock levels, organise supply chains of goods and profile shoppers to decide what products sell best and where stores should be located.
The president of NUI Maynooth, Prof Philip Nolan, said the university fostered a research environment that aimed to promote understanding of new and emerging issues which society faces.
“The Programmable City is truly pioneering research, analysing an unchartered area that has become hugely relevant as technology becomes more influential in our lives,” Prof Nolan said. “We look forward to its exciting conclusions over the next five years.”