Social-Digital Nexus

Day-to-day urban existence is increasingly mediated by digital technologies. The digital networks supporting this have increasingly become platforms of social feedback and interaction among users, leading to drastic changes in social networks. The penetration of such digital tools is particularly dense in urban environments creating digital-social networks that either remain confined within a platform or have a growing influence across platforms and beyond.

Digital networks are recognized as the key enabler for many emerging technologies, including those that expose individuals to one another’s behaviors, opinions, and feelings. At the same time, social networks are self- organizing systems that channel information and influence behavior. 

The goals of this research cluster are threefold. First, to investigate questions regarding the formation, maintenance, and self-organization of digital-social networks. Second, to develop and pilot theoretically informed interventions targeting outcomes of sustainable living both from an environmental and a social perspective. Third, to study the expansion of such piloted interventions to larger-scale field implementations of new technologies.

PROJECTS

Privacy-preserving Intra-City Collaborative Learning for Health Screening Applications

Led by Farah Shamout

The aim of this project is to develop a privacy-preserving collaborative learning framework that can be applied in nation-wide programs that rely on data exchange, such as health screening. The work involves the development of (i) a collaborative learning framework that enables optimal training of deep neural networks, the backbone of the AI decision-support tools, across multiple parties, and (ii) a data encryption technique to facilitate secure data exchange. We will apply the proposed work to a real-world setting using data collected from multiple hospital facilities in Abu Dhabi. This project is expected to create a novel secure data transfer and collaborative learning framework that can facilitate the exchange of sensitive data within smart cities.

Social Media Platforms as Sensors for Investigating Urban Dynamics

Led by Kinga R. Makovi

This project focuses on utilizing traces of digital activity to develop methods for monitoring urban activity focusing on two key areas: urban group formation and evolution, and information propagation in digital networks.