Tackling the toughest urban questions

By 2050, nearly three-quarters of the world will be living in cities. How can we make these densely populated places resilient, healthy, prosperous and sustainable?

The challenge

Population growth and the availability of land, revenues and resources are just a few of the serious constraints city leaders around the world face when trying to tackle the pressing problems of urban life.

To improve the standard of living for citizens and visitors alike, we need to overcome myriad complex and intertwined challenges. That’s going to take people from all backgrounds to find new ways of working together.

But right now, we don’t fully appreciate what those challenges are or how we should interact to solve them. We need a new set of ideas and rules that help uncover the evidence and strategies for the creative actions we’ll all need to take – whatever those actions may be.

What we’re doing

Using our own city of Bristol as a test bed, our Urban ID project team aims to create a framework for diagnosing complex problems within four key urban challenges: Carbon Neutral City, Health and Happiness, Mobility and Access and Inclusion and Equality.

Together with those who live and work in the city, our multi-disciplinary researchers are investigating difficult and life-affecting questions such as how we tackle pollution, whether we spend our health budget in a manner that enables healthy lifestyles for all, how we encourage lower carbon travel in city suburbs, and how open-access technology might help us spread the use of sustainable energy.

How it helps

We don’t expect to come up with all the answers, but we do want to understand how we might come together as a society to approach them. These challenges will need us to think and work together in innovative ways that may seem difficult to imagine within our current systems. Urban ID intends to give us a methodology for overcoming that. We aim to provide a framework that enables policymakers and citizens to navigate and develop cities for the benefit of all.

Colin Taylor Lead researcher profile

Professor Colin Taylor, Professor of Earthquake Engineering

Partner organisations

  • University of the West of England
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