UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis has a long history of thinking about the science of cities and how data can help us understand our complex environment. Our goal for the new Connected Environments programme is to extend this activity further and focus on the research challenges that relate to the infrastructure required to instrument our built and natural environments from an end to end perspective – i.e from understanding what to sense, through to developing tools to support decision making. As such it builds on the need for a skill set in programming, data capture and visualisation, and prototyping with stakeholders to support the analysis of complex systems. Examples of this work include the ViLO Virtual London model created to explore how to visualise streaming data such as transport flows and air quality, and the Echo Boxes in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that implement Machine Learning on the devices to intelligently process and classify data at source before sending results to the cloud – an example of “AI at the edge”.
At its heart Connected Environments is about sensing, analysing and visualising data relating to both our urban and natural environments, through to putting the data into online systems. Via a mix of physically making devices and applying online machine learning to the data sets it opens up a new field in the study of our environment, building on everything CASA has worked towards in the last 20 years but taking a new perspective on understanding our places and spaces.