Digital City Exchange

Running time: 2011-2016
Funding agency: Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Project website:
Group researchers: Orestis Tsinalis


New digital technologies are enabling the integration of virtual and physical systems, creating the opportunity for a revolution in city infrastructure that can bring significant benefits for utilities and services. Digital City Exchange is a major new Imperial College London programme that will discover and enable these new technical and business opportunities by linking utilities and services within a city. It is the first cross-sectoral investigation into how we can optimise the use and planning of our cities at a systemic level.

Most existing cities have grown up without strategic planning, so that Victorian sewers service state-of-the-art hospitals, intelligent cars use “dumb” roads, and post boxes sit alongside mobile phone masts. Developments in pervasive sensing, large-scale modelling, new analytical and optimisation techniques and web services technologies offer a new wave of opportunities to re-think an integrated urban infrastructure. New markets for digital services will grow from the ability to integrate, analyse, model, and act upon data from multiple sources. Making this happen in reality also requires progress in the understanding of business models, consumer behaviour at a systemic level, and the prototyping of service innovation to accelerate the development of financially viable new services. Digital City Exchange seeks to create understanding at each stage in this chain, and to examine the benefits of digitally linking utilities and services within a city.