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SusCity: Urban data driven models for creative and resourceful urban transitions


Title: SusCity: Urban data driven models for creative and resourceful urban transitions

Coordinators at INESCC: Carlos Henggeler


Project Team:

Date of approval:

Dates start/end: 01-06-2014 / 30-06-2018

Total Eligible Cost:

EU Financial Support:

National Financial Support:

Project Code: FCT

Region of intervention:





Cities are the center of economic and societal development and today over half of the world’s population resides in cities, and up to 80% is projected for 2050. Cities generate more than 80 percent of global GDP, consume 75 % of natural resources and generate 50% of global waste. Resource efficiency is therefore key for cities to contribute to local and global sustainability and offer at the same time high potential for financial savings.
This project focuses on developing and integrating new tools and services to promote urban resource efficiency with minimum environmental impacts while contributing to promote economic development and preserving actual levels of reliability. Dispersion of agents producing data at urban level leads to mixed results in applying indicators in different environments and sometimes with little gain in urban performance. This project will advance the science of urban systems modeling and data representation supported by urban “big data” collection and processing.
A major broad impact consists on advancing emerging business models for energy and mobility solutions in a rich data and ICT driven context, with increasingly customized alternatives to the citizen, empowering him to an active role in urban design. The use of renewable energy contributes to “net-zero energy” cities enabling new business models associated with the concept of energy supply and demand “aggregation”, which is the process of linking small groups of industrial, commercial, and residential customers into a larger virtual power unit to make them “visible” from the electric system point of view. An effective management of “aggregators” requires advanced models and distributed control systems, with fine time and spatial resolution due to challenges linked to “intermittency” and “variability” of renewables and also the dynamics of energy consumption (consumer behavior) in urban functions such as mobility or housing.
This project takes an integrated and application-oriented research approach by focusing on urban interventions in Lisbon, at the “Parque das Nações” testbed. This is driven by a consortia that includes the Municipality, major utilities and energy network managers, a mobility solutions company, software houses, governmental labs and the national energy agency, which complement the MIT and Portuguese universities effort by providing their expertise and financial support to invest in specific
infrastructures and to develop new services, establishing a rich testbed to explore the project broader impacts.
With this intent, this proposal was developed within a framework of three guiding principles:

  1. The need to understand urban systems in time and space. This project gathers leading research groups in complementary fields, such as MIT in urban energy and transportation models, IST in urban metabolism and transportation systems modeling, INESC Porto in smart grids, U. Coimbra and FCUL in energy in buildings and U. Minho in data management. The collaborative effort proposed advances the science of integrated urban models and tools to provide a holistic perspective on resources consumption, focusing mainly on energy and materials.
  2. The need for smart infrastructures, including smart energy grids and smart mobility systems. This project engages companies and public institutions that provide their skills, resources and technologies, developed in previous projects, in the implementation of a testbed with hundreds of buildings being modeled and two major service buildings, around 300 households and 50 vehicles monitored. The missing links to integrate their individual solutions in new smart infrastructures are provided by the joint research work with universities, considering the need for interoperability, scalability and to be replicable for different topological scenarios.
  3. The need for new urban services and business models associated with the transition to sustainable urban systems. The promise of “Big Data” will not flourish without specific initiatives that promote ease of access and clarity of usefulness for multiple stakeholders. We will provide a dashboard of sustainable urban performance for urban managers, customized information for the citizens involved in the testbed and open datasets available to the community to be used in new business approaches based on effective communication and representation of data at various temporal and spatial scales. This is why a special effort will be dedicated to data communication, including 3D rich environments based on recent MIT- Media Lab developments.

This project is thus intended to advance the understanding of urban systems while promoting actionable and scalable urban services and interventions, aimed at developing, demonstrating and exploring in Lisbon different facets of new business opportunities associated with an emerging generation of sustainable urban systems and to consolidate, through their international reach, a huge market worldwide.