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City Sciences Introduction

Nowadays, more than 50% of the world's population lives in cities and this figure is expected to increase by 10% by 2030, according to World Bank data. Cities are responsible for 67% of the total energy consumption in the world and more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. Every month, around the world, a constant flow of 5 million people moves from the countryside to the city. These trends predict an unstoppable process of urban expansion over the coming decades, generating new problems, but also new opportunities.

Urban areas have become the basic environment for personal and social development, engines of economic activity, spaces for innovation and centers for the provision of services, yet they are also places where rampant unemployment, segregation and poverty spread.

The need for accessibility to basic services such as health, education, entertainment, security, etc. will be met with greater difficulties in certain parts of the globe, and the growing population needs will specially demand energy, waste management and transport services, as well as housing. The principles for sustainable and balanced development have been widely discussed in principles and ideas included in documents such as "World Commission on Environment and Development", "the Global Agenda 21" and "United Nations Sustainable Development Goals".

In trying to approach the issues that affect cities and their future development world-wide, a careful characterization of the cities of our time must be taken into account when trying to address some of their challenges.

The first consideration is related with the complexity of the urban context. The city is made up of citizens, infrastructure and services. The particular combination of these pieces conditions the behavior of each city. A paradigmatic example is the difference between compact models, typically derived from European cities, and the scattered models that characterize the cities in the United States. Additionally, city dwellers behave like living organisms, as the metabolic approach suggests, they react, sometimes unexpectedly, against some interventions. The difficulty of describing and predicting the mobility patterns of the inhabitants of a given city, is just one of the examples of the complexity that scientists must face when studying the urban context. The asymmetry in citizens’ behavior is paradigmatic when trying to study the effect in the use of private transport when increasing or reducing the price of a given public transportation system.

Another trend to take into mind is related to the progressive digitalization of the world. Today more than ever, data allow us to better interpret reality. We are progressively moving to a more ‘sensitive’ society. Our use of smart phones, credit cards, or internet navigation, give away more information than never. Smart meters are deployed in most of the supply chain (water, gas, electricity, etc...), sensors can measure pollutant concentration at virtually any point of the city and they can monitor the saturation of urban roads live. The target today is to integrate all of these data platforms for the use of the municipality, and more interestingly, for the use of the general public. The call for open data is not only an exercise of municipal transparency, but also an incentive to a healthier economy and more accurately addressed services. The availability of data is shaping cities with new products and unexpected business opportunities.

In short, cities have always been a space for human development and they will be made use of even more intensely in the coming years. The growing urbanization of the planet poses enormous challenges to extremely complex problems that require multidisciplinary teams in an approach that is beginning to take shape. A transdisciplinary and integrated discipline is needed to combine the knowledge of traditional sciences -in the fields of urban planning, energy, mobility or services- allowing for the creation of models that anticipate complex urban consequences of any intervention. It is the time for city sciences.

Cities are the solution not the problem, as Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, claims. It is the time of cities. The XXI century will happen in cities. City regions are more relevant than countries. Sao Paolo is more important than Brazil. Lima than Peru, or Buenos Aires than Argentina. These "business" cities compete to attract or maintain existing investments: business networks, international organizations, sports and cultural events. But cities compete to attract not only tourists or money, but talent. Talented people with a complete understanding of their environment will inherit this changing world.

This session will overview both the academic content of the module and the organizational basis of the course, and will prepare the basecamp for further exploration of the different topics included in this module.

Alejandro de Miguel Solano, module coordinator, will introduce the topics of each class, in an attempt to stimulate in the students the desire to know more details of each one of the subjects dealt with in each thematic session.





ICT in Cities Introduction

Digital Cities for the Common Good

BBVA. Data & Analytics

Data Visualization


Digital Cities for the Common Good

Are Digital Cities for the Common Good possible? Can we begin to imagine them? Is it possible to build them or, on the contrary, are they and will they remain a utopia?

Regardless of the required steps to start an economy of the common good, these will pass through the cities, only because it is in them that people have decided to live. And where there are many people, there are many ideas, so our job is to connect them with the digital infrastructures of the city. In this way, we can aspire to design public services not from bottom to top, but in a collaborative fashion.

Another feature of the future digital cities of the common good: open source. Open source infrastructures, whether software, electronics, networks, data, laboratories, public space or buildings have 4 distinctive features: being understandable, accessible, reconfigurable and community-based.

There is much talk about energy sources: oil, renewable ... but we often forget to consider the new raw material of the digital economy: the data. Cities are based on a great gold mine: our data, those who give us power as consumers and those whose loss also leads to the loss of our privacy.

Linked to the above, we think that there is no economy of the common good if we do not launch the "innovation of the common good".


BBVA Data & Analytics

Credit card payments and transactions carry within them very interesting information: company addresses, prices, schedules… BBVA has started to generate value with this geolocated information, exploring the possibilities of reusing the data to create new information services that offer a vision of macroeconomic flows and trends built on the microeconomic data.

Within the framework of this innovative initiative, Juan Murillo Arias has collaborated in the development of various scientific articles in cooperation with MIT's Senseable Cit Lab and other academic institutions.

On this session, Juan Murillo Arias will speak about data based smart cities, business models and the digital transformation model of big companies.


Data Visualization

In a complex world of unlabeled data and humongous datasets, effective visualization helps users analyze and reason about data and evidence. It makes complex data more accessible, understandable and usable.

The session focuses on the spatial analysis of urban and social dynamics through the application of Geographic Information Systems. Gustavo Romanillos Arroyo is currently part of the research team of INSIGHT (Innovative Policy Modeling and Governance Tools for Sustainable Post-Crisis Urban Development) and TRANSBICI projects, from which he launches the initiative Huellaciclistademadrid.




Environment and Cities Introduction

Urban Environmental Issues

Air Quality Modelling

Waste Management


Urban Environmental Issues

Today, cities are confronted with the task of minimizing their energy, water and food inputs, while keeping their heat and air and water pollution low at the same time.

This session aims to provide an overview on the environmental challenges that cities face, essentially covering air quality and waste management, and will set the road map for the two forthcoming sessions.


Air Quality Modelling

Air quality is an important issue with direct implications on urban planning, mobility and public management in general. Meeting air quality standards in urban environment is essential but also very challenging since both population and emissions concentrate on urban environments. Effective measures and strategies to improve air quality in the city must take into account the influences of most of the pollutant emission sectors. Additionally, potential negative impacts on productive activities as well as social and economic costs play an important role.

While traditional information networks allow very accurate concentration levels of major pollutants regulated at the level of air quality (RD 102/2011), its complexity, infrastructure requirements and high cost make impossible high density monitoring. This introduces the problem regarding the need to ensure the representativeness of the readings in relatively large areas of the city. Given the lack of homogeneity in the distribution of broadcasts are sources parameters affecting the dispersion of pollutants and the population distribution is very difficult to ensure that the measured values are representative. By contrast, the use of simple devices incorporating electrochemical sensors based on metallic or low-cost technologies and open as Arduino code oxides, allow to significantly increase the density monitoring. This line of research on low cost alternative techniques is particularly attractive in urban areas because that is where emissions and population exposed to pollution suffered the negative effects are concentrated.


E-waste Management

A fast-growing surplus of electronic waste around the globe is consequence of rapid changes in changes in media (tapes, software, MP3) and technology. The falling prices and planned obsolescence have resulted in an outnumbered amount of waste by-products. Many of these products are potentially harmful for humans. Technical solutions are available to recycle most of these products, but in most cases a legal framework, logistics, and other services need to be implemented before a technical solution can be applied.




Sustainable Mobility Introduction

Mobility Trends

Do the right mix

Kineo Analytics


Mobility Trends

On average, people make 3,5 trips and spend 1 hour per day in commuting. Depending on external and internal features people choose one or another transport mode to move around the city.

This session aims to provide an overall perspective on the mobility cycle in cities. The session will cover from the modal decision phase based on route choice to mobility modelling and management and the effects of mobility in shaping cities.


Do the right mix

The vision Europe shares in relation to sustainable transport for both passengers and freight from a continental to an urban perspective goes towards a single European transport area. Urban mobility should match economic growth, quality of life and environmental protection in all cities across Europe, by changing the mindset of citizens from car dependent to health and environment focused.


Kineo Analytics

Kineo Mobility Analytics is a technology company that mines and analyses anonymous geolocation data from mobile devices to provide private companies and public sector organizations with meaningful and actionable information about people's activity and mobility patterns.

The planning and management of transport systems requires accurate, reliable and updated travel demand information. Traditional data collection methods, such as household travel surveys and vehicle intercept surveys, provide rich travel and demographic data, but they are expensive and require months to complete, which limits the size of the sample that can be surveyed and the frequency with which information is updated. The use of mobile positioning data, alone or in combination with other data sources such as traffic counts or public transport smart card data, open new opportunities for overcoming these problems by augmenting and/or replacing traditional data collection methods.

Kineo exploits these technological opportunities to provide transport authorities, public and private operators and transport concessionaires with updated and rich travel demand information




Energy in Cities Introduction

Introduction to Energy Use

Smart Grids and DC grids

Case Study: Electric vehicles. Car2Go


Introduction to Energy Use

Energy is crucial for our lives. Modern society and quality of life are based on the extensive use of energy. Today, the objective of reducing the power consumption without losing quality of life is at stake. Therefore, a proper exploitation of clean energy resources is becoming more necessary with each passing day. A handful of conventional electrical generative sources (gas, hydroelectric, nuclear…) together with a wide generation based on wind, solar, bio-mass and other sources will provide our future energy.

This session will outline from the primary sources to the end consumption of energy in cities to introduce the rest of the sessions.


Smart grids & DC grids

Traditional generation of electricity was undertaken by very few generators that will serve many customers. The current electricity grid is based on AC distribution. This generation of electricity is based on rotating machines that produce an AC current being the high power plants located far from the cities. This technology is mature and today’s efforts are focused in the integration of the small, distributed and non-easily-predictable renewables electricity generators such as wind and solar (Smart Grids) into a system with many more customers.

An interesting alternative arises for the cities: the massive use of small photovoltaic panels (PV) in every roof allows the generation of energy at the point it will be used. The energy generated by PVs is DC and there is a chance of saving a lot of energy if it is directly used by the home appliances, skipping the standard conversion to AC.


Case Study: Electric Vehicles. Car2Go

The mobility in the future cities will be based on electrical vehicles (cars, motorbikes, bikes…). The electrical grid in the cities was not designed knowing the huge amount of energy required to recharge all these vehicles. A lot of new infrastructure should be built to allow the connection of the loads and also at the point of generation. In addition to this, the energy stored in the batteries of the vehicles can be returned to grid (vehicle to grid) to provide the extra energy during the peak consumption hours. The presence of thousands or millions of batteries connected to the grid will play a very important role to stabilize the grid considering the variable nature of the load and the variable generation of the renewable energies.

Car2go is a car rental service per minute -car-sharing- of electric vehicles. It has a fleet of 13,500 Smart Models worldwide and more than one million customers, of which more than half are in Europe. Since its launch in November 2015 this service is shaping mobility in Madrid.




Economy in Cities Introduction

Cities as Innovative Ecosystems

City branding

Case Study: Social Media Fingerprints of Unemployment


Cities as innovative ecosystems

Cities are economic engines. London generates approximately 22 per cent of the UK's GDP. In the case of Paris, for instance, the city accounts for about thirty percent of the French GDP, being one of the four mayor global cities.

According to Richard Florida, current city economy is boosted by bringing creative people together and developing innovative or disruptive products. Cities are the places with higher density of this creative class, where ideas become realities.


City Branding

Cities want to attract people. International tourist arrivals surpassed the milestone of 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in 2012. Travel and Tourism’s contribution to world GDP grew for the sixth consecutive year in 2015, rising to a total of 9.8% of world GDP. It is no surprise then, that municipalities across the world are dealing with strategic branding plans to make their city more visible and attractive to the world.

As well as private corporations do, cities also use marketing to develop a communication strategy -which also encompasses other aspects such as urban planning, politics, administration- and whose objective is to be able to compete in the world of tourism.


Case Study: Social Media Fingerprints of Unemployment

Publicly available social media data can be used to quantify deviations from typical patterns of behavior and uncover how these deviations signal the socio-economic status of regions. Using data from geo-localized Twitter messages, we can find that unemployment is correlated with technology adoption, daily activity, diversity in mobility patterns, and correctness in communication style. These behavioral metrics serve to build simple, interpretable, and cost-effective socio-economical predictors from these novel digital datasets.




Universal Accessibility Introduction

Universal accessibility basics

Universal accessibility workshop

Universal accessibility projects


Universal accessibility basics

Universal accessibility refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that inherently meet the living requirements of all citizens without exclusion.

An open discussion with the students’ participation about what universal accessibility means will be held to prepare the field for further exploration of this concept.


Universal accessibility workshop

The workshop will consist on a field trip around the Moncloa Campus. In groups, students will be provided with wheelchairs and will be blind-folded. The trip will start inside the ETSAM, where students may experience the main challenges for accessibility indoors. Afterwards, students will move outside in a short trip to the sport center across Juan de Herrera street, experiencing all the inconveniences suffered by millions in our current cities every day.


Universal accessibility projects

Universal accessibility is focused on how to create, recreate, innovate and improve cities paying attention to human diversity – from children to elderly people - to people with different abilities. This session will cover main projects all around the world following this framework.

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