Turning the smart city vision into a reality using Digital Twin and Geospatial modelling: dissecting UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11

This joint PhD project will be based at The University of Melbourne with a minimum 12 month stay at KU Leuven.

Project title: Governance modelling for sustainable geospatial information management using emerging technologies

Project description
A smart city is a conceptual global framework. The vision of a smart city is a blend of many associated processes (built environment and natural) in space and time forming a complex system. However, turning this vision into reality demands informed action plans crafted in partnerships across multiple sectors for example, academic scholars aka think tanks and the policy governance people and other associated stakeholders.

Foundational on the transparent workflows of such action plans the vision may turn into tangible products. In developing such action plans within the sustainable development goals, we need to advance our knowledge in academic scholarships bringing together policy interventions for the public good. In addition data and digital transformation is now central to our lives, therefore there is a need for a seamless digital platform supporting this vision.

With this in mind, this project will investigate the smart city vision into a reality using a Digital Twin technology and Geospatial modelling supporting UN- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11- which is to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The vision turned into reality will be examined for its resilience and robustness with an active engagement with various stakeholders from extended geographical territories. The engagement will be governed by a protocol developed within the umbrella of policy governance informed by scientific and professional outcomes.

The project will use the new technology of Digital Twin platform as an enabling platform. Digital Twin will enable more effective use of data to understand place-based policy and planning issues, test potential interventions, and deliver more sustainable planning and development; thereby improving decision-making efficiency and effectiveness and improving social, economic and environmental outcomes. This is now critically important in the face of emerging challenges such as high population growth and associated housing and infrastructure investment, climate change and sustainable development, and community expectations of improved liveability and equity.

Considering the importance and contribution of the UN in global good governance, it is of paramount importance to educate the next generation of researchers in taking the global goals into national and local levels and engage with local stakeholders across government, industry and academia. This engagement in local level may inspire local stakeholders in realising the global goals and implement them in the local levels. These activities may infer to global goals and indicators.

In this PhD project, we envision that the identified knowledge gap of downscaling the goals and targets from global to local levels in dissecting SDG 11 will lead to a novel framework. Such framework once implemented and visualised considering various geographical territories and cities will help us to advance our knowledge in the future smart cities design.

For scientific evidence-based resilient and sustainable city, we aim to combine in-situ observations (characterized by relatively deep temporal coverage, irregular spatial coverage, and moderate data volumes) with remotely-sensed data (characterized by relatively shallow temporal coverage, high-resolution spatial coverage, and high data volumes). By such combinations, we seek precise insights into space-varying behaviour of temporal trends in the frequency, magnitude and spatio-temporal extent of extreme events affecting the cities. Such insight will provide us local indicators of city resilience which is a major goal of this PhD.

The PhD project tackles a global sustainable development goal with an exciting area of research in embracing the extreme events for resilient cities. State-of-the-art technology on modelling and current Earth Observation data sets available via NASA, ESA and Geoscience Australia (GA) will be used for information and knowledge visualisation. This PhD project is expected to provide a detailed framework and strong insight at the intersection of policy, governance and science for resilient cities. A strong application focus will be on the role of extreme events in continental Australia and European cities. Ultimately, the work of the PhD will contribute to policy frameworks in designing resilient cities.

The supervisory team brings together international expertise on geomatics with a focus on SDGs, smart cities and Earth Observation data modelling and extend to mapping, modelling and quantification of natural disaster for attribution to policy and governance. We strongly encourage applications from students with excellent knowledge in spatial and temporal visualization of cities and their development processes using spatial statistics and Earth observation.

The project will be complemented by the project on Governance modelling of geospatial information management and the collaboration will ensure a successful completion of the project.


Supervision team:

Principal Investigators (PIs)

Professor Abbas Rajabifard (The University of Melbourne)
Professor dr ir Joep Crompvoets (KU Leuven)

Co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs)

Dr Jagannath Aryal (The University of Melbourne)
Professor dr Steven Van de Walle (KU Leuven)
Professor dr Trui Steen (KU Leuven)