Edinburgh Research Explorer

Biopolis: Exploring the future of smart cities through biological research (EFI Research Award, £3.5K)

Project: Research

Description

In order to tackle issues emerging from rapid urbanisation and population growth, “smart cities” propose the distribution of sensors and development of information technologies that allow for closer monitoring of resources and activities, which could optimise resource distribution and help reduce environmental impact. The computationally-based approach to smart cities, however, has been a target of criticism due to its tendency towards top-down approaches and a focus on efficiency and profit rather than on more holistic perspectives of well-being.

In this research, we aim to envision new concepts for smart cities that focus on biodesign, ecosystems and on diverse forms of life in the urban space. Biodesign provides an opportunity to reinforce resilience within smart cities by drawing attention to biological ecosystems and the incorporation of living organisms into the urban infrastructure, which could result in greater diversity and lower environmental impact. This research will look beyond humans and databases to explore systems that can define and regulate transactions among diverse biological actors in the urban environment. By fostering collaboration between designers, artists, and researchers working in bio-related areas, it will propose new imaginaries of future smart cities that will expand the scope of current computational approaches.