Urban Systems


The current activities are all working towards establishing the Main Research Area Urban ­Systems as an internationally leading centre for every aspect of metropolitan research. One of the goals is to extend its level of involvement in integrative ­sustainability research under the Future Earth programme. In the coming years a German Committee for Sustainability Research will be established and will cooperate with the DFG and the BMBF to develop new conditions for research approaches based on the principles of co-design and co-production. Its focus will be on the ­central role of cities and megacities in tackling global transformation and strategies with which to equip them for the future, which coincides precisely with the central interests of the Main Research Area.

A further task of major academic and social concern is to examine different aspects of urban complexity on an interdisciplinary level. An ongoing research initiative between members of the humanities, educational sciences, economics, ­engineering and mathematics considers methods of modelling urban complexity across the disciplines. In this context the comparability and compatibility of quantitative, visual and narrative models are of particular interest. The aim of the project – beyond taking stock and analysing the benefits and limitations of different understandings of the notion of ‘model’ and the related problem-solving methods – is thus to develop an overall approach and identify complementary approaches between the disciplines. The relevance of this research thus lies in establishing an interdisciplinary picture of urban complexity in its entirety, in which the findings of different disciplines, with their various benefits and deficits, complement each other.

Developing the newly founded Centre for ­Urban Epidemiology (CUE) as part of Urban ­Systems is another priority. With the groundwork for its organisation, content and concept laid in the first development phase, the emphasis is shifting in the medium term towards major transdisciplinary research projects linking ­epidemiology with other urban disciplines such as urban planning, cultural studies, social sciences and education.

For many areas of application in Urban Systems, the specific quality of data, its sourcing, processing, user demands and practical integration will be a central question in the context of research on smart cities. With colleagues from Artificial Intelligence Research at TU Dortmund University and the Fraunhofer Morgenstadt-Initiative, ­researchers from the Main Research Area of ­Urban Systems have launched several projects which primarily address fundamental research issues from a computer science perspective and make concrete links to areas of application in city logistics, urban planning and urban health management.