Chinese seek Estonian researchers’ help in developing the smart city concept
The University of Tartu hosted a delegation from the Institute of Smart City of Shanghai University who consider Estonian research in urbanisation and urban development a role model. Together, Chinese and Estonian researchers develop urban planning solutions, social innovation models and sensing systems.
The smart city concept is a rapidly developing research field in the whole world. “The smart city is largely connected to the changing organisation of life related to the use of information technology and the so-called ‘big data’,” said the Research Professor of Estonian Academy of Sciences Rein Ahas, who does his research at the Chair of Human Geography of the University of Tartu.
According to Ahas, cooperation in the research and development of the smart city concept is useful and interesting for the researchers of the small and diminishing Estonia and the rapidly growing China, as urbanisation, urban development and urban planning are important topics for both countries.
“Both Estonia and China have expanding and diminishing cities and both societies have high expectations to the use of information and communication technology in solving urban problems and improving the quality of life,” said Ahas, outlining the common grounds for cooperation.
The “smartness” of developing the smart city and the smart society largely relies on social sciences – how to apply new technologies, materials and data to improve the quality of life. “To develop that, we need knowledge, strategies, urban planning solutions and business models,” stated Ahas, adding that the smart city is an important concept among the financing priorities of the new EU budgeting period and a priority field of the world’s leading technology companies in this decade.
At the meeting that took place at the University of Tartu, the researchers of the Institute of Smart City of Shanghai University and the Mobility Lab of the UT Department of Geography discussed the topics of the smart city.
The cooperation between the Institute of Smart City of Shanghai University and the UT Department of Geography started from mutual interest in data, research and sensing systems based on mobile networks. “By now, the research topics and fields have expanded. For instance, we are cooperating in the development of urban planning solutions, social innovation models and sensing systems,” said Ahas.
The delegation of Shanghai University was led by Professor Wanggen Wan. This year, Research Fellow from Shanghai Yifan Zhang works in Tartu on mobile positioning and the analysis of social media data. In autumn, one more research fellow from Shanghai and one doctoral student from Tsinghua University will come to do research at the University of Tartu.
There is a plan to supplement the cooperation agreements between the universities and work together to develop the Asian Studies Centre in Estonia.
Professor Rein Ahas is a member of the Sherpa Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities & Communities.
Additional information: Rein Ahas, Research Professor of Estonian Academy of Sciences, Chair of Human Geography of the University of Tartu, tel: +372 503 5914, email: rein.ahas [ät] ut.ee (.)