RGU researchers working to help develop Aberdeen as a ‘Smart City’

Researchers from Robert Gordon University (RGU) have been working with Aberdeen City Council and other partners to develop innovative ways of integrating technology to the city’s infrastructure, to improve the lives of residents.

Townhouse modelThe work has seen collaboration across areas of expertise, including architecture and the built environment, creative and cultural business and computing.

In the coming months, the University plans to establish a digital ‘hub’ at Garthdee, which will bring together equipment and expertise from across RGU, and will be a useful a location for teaching, research, public events and industry collaboration.

Over the past year, the team has worked with the Council to undertake a large scale scanning and modelling project (Digital Aberdeen), which can be used to help support future developments in community planning and management of the city.

This connects with EU-funded work (Civitas PORTIS), which includes innovative work by the City concerning smart monitoring and control of traffic, and creative initiatives to support walking, cycling and more efficient freight movement in Aberdeen and the Shire.

RGU has also just invested in a raft of new digital technology, including portable 3D laser scanning equipment, and plans to bring together expertise and digital facilities from across the whole organisation.

Professor Richard Laing, from RGU’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, believes that the work going on in Aberdeen is at the very forefront of what is happening in the country.

“In the last few years, the collaborative work undertaken between Robert Gordon University and Aberdeen City Council has increasingly dealt with issues, themes and practical tasks which we would now recognise as being central to the development of the smart city,” he said.

“When I attended the recent TM Forum ‘Smart Cities InFocus’ conference held in Yinchuan, China, I was struck by the relevance of those collaborations, including a large scale projects involving high definition laser scanning, and ongoing work concerning the development of smart transport within city.

Richard Laing 2015“The activities which have been undertaken in Aberdeen, and which will continue to happen in the coming years, place us at the forefront of new city development.

“Last year, we undertook a collaborative digital scanning project, which resulted in a very large and highly detailed dataset which recorded building facades throughout the city centre of Aberdeen. This can now be regarded as an important step towards the development of an interactive digital model, which could be useful within community planning, public engagement, the arts and urban simulations.

“That work has already been presented at international conference (LC3), and both the data and the methods which we were able to develop will now be extended within future collaborations, as well as within the teaching of our undergraduate students.”

Richard continued: “Regarding the development of smart transport systems within Aberdeen, our work with the council and other local partners, including colleagues at the University of Aberdeen, through the EU ‘Civitas’ H2020 PORTIS project, will demonstrate and evaluate the impact of new technology in the city.

“The City has an opportunity to lead the way in how we can use emerging technologies to improve life in our communities, and this kind of collaboration between the University, City and private industry is an excellent model for how this can be made to happen.”

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen and Civitas Portis champion Councillor Barney Crocket said: "RGU's new Digital Hub is an exciting development for the city and fits in to our aspirations transforming Aberdeen into a leader of digital technology.

"The Citivas Portis project is looking at existing and future transport infrastructure needs for the city and wider area including how digital technology can be used, while encouraging people to think about using alternative forms of transport such as walking or cycling.

"We need to continue to work hard and make new IT transportation systems meet the pace of change and work best for Aberdeen, its people and its port."


Release by Rob Smith
Communications Officer
Press and Media Enquiries