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Urban science: an update

CUSPThere have been several developments in research on cities at Warwick over the past year or so. In January 2014 the Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities (WISC) was established. It provides a strategic focus for research at Warwick in the space where data and cities intersect and complements the campus-wide network of researchers that comprise the Sustainable Cities Global Research Priority.

WISC also provides a direct link into the Centre for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) in Brooklyn, New York of which Warwick is the European partner. Since 2013 there have been nine academic appointments made that have an exchange status with CUSP and who have been active in developing research collaborations with colleagues in Brooklyn.

In April 2014 the EPSRC awarded Warwick a £3.9m Centre for Doctoral Training in Urban Science and Progress. This funding will support 10 new MSc/PhD studentships per year for five years in order to build a significant research capacity in urban science. The first student cohort started in October 2014 comprising a total of 15 students with additional funding attracted from other private and public sector sources.

Other research highlights include the European Commission-funded PHEME project exploring computing veracity – the fourth challenge of big data. Professor Rob Procter leads the Warwick contribution to the project which seeks to learn more about the veracity of information spread through social media feeds. During the riots in 2011 there were reports that the London Eye was on fire and that animals from London Zoo had been set free. Both of these were untrue and were quashed using the same social media that spread the rumours in the first place. Using a combination of big data analytics, advanced linguistic and visual methods, the project will aim to develop a toolkit that can help identify rumours in close to real time and assist in distinguishing truth from rumour.

Dr Stana Zivanovic along with Professor Toby Mottram from the School of Engineering have recently been awarded a major £720,000 grant from EPSRC to characterise the performance of a new range of fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) structures for resilience and stability. FRP materials have been used already in several sectors including oil and gas, aviation and marine and are increasingly gaining favour as a material in the construction sector where the wide range of FRP shapes and building systems provide a lighter weight, green alternative to traditional construction materials.

This project will contribute to the development of design rules and design standards for the use of these new materials in construction which will enable their wider use in civil infrastructure. A particular focus of this work will be the behaviour of FRP in ‘dynamic’ structures like stadiums and bridges which are subject to vibration and changing loadings. The outcome of this work will be a more sustainable and resilient built environment. You can find more information on the work of Dr Zivanovic and her team here.