Dr.-Ing. Walter Pelka, President of HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU), and Joichi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, signed the co-operation agreement on 2 June 2915 at Hamburg’s city hall in the presence of Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz and Vize-Mayor Katharina Fegebank.
A City as a Laboratory
The agreement will turn Hamburg into a living laboratory: The objective of the Digital City Science Lab will be to explore the changes in cities by digitisation and to offer constructively help. For this, the urban change processes will be studied in detail in Hamburg and scientifically evaluated. The cooperation with the HCU allows the Media Lab at MIT to verify his models for the simulation of urban issues and to develop, for example, science-based planning tools for electric mobility, urban agriculture, smart working and living spaces, and other aspects of innovative urban development. For both basic research and applied research, co-operations will be entered with dedicated international companies in this field.
Public Relations with City Scopes
As it will be important to convey the results to the public, so-called City Scopes will be used. These city models will act as graphic presentation of the results retrieved and allow to easily understand them even for non-professionals. As part of the development of the Hamburg city lab, also a think tank between business, politics and science will be set up to advise the city in future development projects.
The lab will be headed by a director still to be appointed by the HCU, where it will be located. The City Science Task Group will be made up by researchers from the fields of digital technologies and urban research / Smart City / Digital City and academic staff. The lab will be controlled by a four-member steering committee, with two members each from fMIT Media Lab and HCU.
In addition, an advisory board will be formed with members from the city, industry and science. To intensify co-the operation, scientists, scholars and students from both universities will be invited to join exchanges and work at the other institution. The scientific expertise of the task group will be complemented by professors of the HCU.
Task Group for Basic Research
The Task Group itself will conduct basic research, further the networking among the participating scientists at HCU Hamburg and other universities and research institutions, and enter co-operations with international partners in projects. Also, the task group will also apply for external funding for projects in basic research. Last but not least, it will be expanding the networking with partners from business, public administration and members of society, and acquire third-party funds from these areas for application-oriented projects. The new joint laboratory of HCU and MIT Media Lab will be supported by start-up funding of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
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