Cities must manage the provision of a multitude of services smartly, relying on its physical and digital infrastructures. Information about the current and projected demand for city resources is crucial to optimally allocate them so that we can minimize costs while maximizing welfare. In striving for optimality, a data-driven model of the city is extracted through a wide range of sensing technologies abstracted as digital networks. 

In this cluster, CITIES constructs models that are continuously refined, allowing decision-makers to react optimally to current events as well as pose what-if questions directly on the model itself. As the city’s physical networks change, so do the live models. Research in the digital-physical nexus cluster goes beyond technology-transfer and urban policy adoption to also focus on how to adapt and contextualize technology and infrastructure design to the unique socio-economic, environmental, and cultural constraints of a city. 

The goals of this cluster are threefold. First, to identify challenges faced by cities as we try to further integrate our traditional infrastructure in a rapidly evolving digital world. Second, to advance the state-of-the-art on sensing, modeling, and AI decision-support tools. Third, to examine how to adapt and contextualize data collection and city modeling technology for cities within the UAE, and Abu Dhabi in particular.


Securing Construction Networks for the Cities of the Future

Led by Prof. Borja García de Soto & Prof. Sanjeev Goyal

This project aims to better understand and mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities across the lifecycle of construction projects due to the increasingly digitalized and connected built environments. The construction industry plays a significant role in the UAE’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The ongoing digitalization and automation transformation that this industry is going through, referred to as Construction 4.0, affects how we design, build, and operate our built environment beyond critical infrastructures. Although Construction 4.0 has many advantages, it also opens the door to several challenges and vulnerabilities. Recent reports list the construction industry at the top of cyberattacks, which is concerning given the large number of stakeholders (public and private) across the different phases of construction projects, and the complexity and dynamic nature of their interactions. This study will look at the cybersecurity challenges and vulnerabilities, focusing on the interaction among the many network organizations and participants. The results of this work will provide recommendations and offer support to policies to minimize the spread of vulnerabilities.