The University of Warwick has been named in a New York-based academic consortium investigating life in the gridlocked cities of the future.
Warwick is the only European university named as part of the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), a group of world-class academic institutions and companies tasked with addressing issues for denseley-populated cities.
For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas in a few more decades, the world’s population will exceed nine billion, 70 per cent of whom will live in cities.
Plans for CUSP, revealed by New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week, are still being finalised but the University of Warwick is expected to supply about 10 academics who will work between the US and the Midlands.
Professor Tim Jones, pro-vice-chancellor for knowledge transfer, business engagement and research, said: “CUSP is all about research, largely in science and engineering, about how people live in cities.
“It is things like transportation, and how it can be more efficient, what types of vehicles or public transport, or things like energy – more efficient buildings or resource management and how to deal with things like water.
“There are a raft of issues about how people live in cities anywhere in the world.
“At the moment, 50 per cent of people live in cities and if we look at expected population growth then globally there are going to be nine billion people, with 70 per cent living in cities.”
CUSP is an applied science research institute led by New York University, along with Carnegie Mellon University, The City University of New York, The Indian Institute of Technology, in Bombay, and The University of Toronto, alongside Warwick.
Industry partners include IBM, Cisco, Siemens, Con Edison, National Grid, Xerox, Arup, IDEO, and AECOM.
The work has been brought about by the growth of mammoth urban areas across the world, such as London, Tokyo, Mumbai and Mexico City and Prof Jones said New York would be used as a testbed.
“This project will use the city as a living laboratory and use city agencies to test technology in the living environment,” he said.
“It is a work in progress but the model is to have a centre in New York with 100 members of staff and each partner would contribute about 10 academics.
“The idea is staff will spend time both doing research and teaching here but also be seconded over to New York.
“We have some existing staff to work on the project and we are about to advertise for four academics and we may increase that number in due course.”
Warwick’s vice-chancellor professor Nigel Thrift added: “The aims of the Center for Urban Sciences and Progress are closely aligned with many of Warwick’s own research priorities of manufacturing, energy, food security and healthcare.
"These themes all have significant impacts on the lives of 21st century city dwellers.
“Warwick already has significant experience in applying those research themes to needs of cities and it is generating significant interest in that work from a range of policy makers and city leaders.”