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Trinity College Dublin

Future Cities

These pages describe DSG's research on smart cities, which is part of Future Cities. The Trinity Centre for Smart and Sustainable Cities

An increasing proportion of the world’s population lives in cities placing an increasing strain on their transportation, security, business, telecommunications, water-management, and energy-supply systems. To improve quality of life and ensure sustainability, future smart cities will increasingly rely on information and communications technology to optimise the performance of these systems. DSG’s research is investigating the design of the middleware needed to support such cities. Our work is focused on the exploitation of data from very diverse sensors, including those contributed by individuals, to enable (semi) automatic management of city-scale services. In particular, we are investigating the design of new programming models, middleware architectures, communication infrastructures, and advanced analytics to allow sensor data to be gathered, transported, and interpreted effectively to optimise urban resource usage and service delivery, and thereby improve the quality of life and sustainability of cities.


It is expected that 5 billion people representing 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2030 (United Nations, 2007). The growth of cities is an evolving phenomenon that is often unplanned leading to serious social problems such as traffic congestion, crime, noise pollution, energy wastage, and high levels of carbon dioxide emissions. The solutions to these problems are elusive but ICT can act as an enabler both in terms of making available the information needed by citizens, politicians, and local authorities to manage cities and create the impetus for corrective actions, and in terms of enabling more efficient management of available resource and service delivery. While ever growing demand places increasing pressure on finite resources, wasteful modes of delivery mean that we are not using them as efficiently as possible. This lack of resource optimisation is compounded by poor decision-making due to lack of accurate and real-time information about what resources are being used at any given time and where supply/demand imbalances lie.

Research Areas

Our current research is focused in four areas:

  • Smart urban-scale sensing addresses middleware and communications architectures to allow high volumes of data from both public and user-contributed sensors to be gathered and exploited by smart cities. This area merges wireless sensor networks, vehicular sensor networks, and participatory sensing.
  • Smart infrastructure addresses the management of urban-scale critical infrastructure, with a particular interest in autonomic management techniques modelled as self-organising multi-agent systems that exploit model-free learning algorithms to associate meaning and actions with available sensor data.
  • Smart transportation focuses on improving the reliability and safety of road transportation, in particular via advanced urban traffic control and highway management systems.
  • Smart Services addresses middleware for adaptable software services, providing run-time statistical timing analysis, timely reconfiguration, and a software framework for cross-layer adaptation of multi-layer systems


DSG's research on future cities is carried out within Lero: The Irish Software Engineering Research Centre and NEMBES: The Networked EMbedded Systems Centre as well as with the support of Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, and the Framework 7 ARTEMIS JTI in the following projects:

  • MDDSV: Model-Driven Development of Smart Vehicles, a four-year project funded by Science Foundation Ireland through Lero
  • LAMP: Learning-based Autonomic Management of Power Distribution, a four-year project funded by Science Foundation Ireland through Lero
  • DYSARM : Dynamic Service Adaptation using Model-Driven Engineering
  • Real-time Vehicular Communication, a three-year project funded by the Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Program
  • REALT: Real-time Adaptive Learning-based Traffic control, a three-year project funded under Enterprise Ireland's Commercialisation Fund Technology Development
  • DESNA, a two-year project funded under Enterprise Ireland's Commercialisation Fund Technology Development
  • Car sharing, funded by Enterprise Ireland's Innovation Voucher scheme
  • EMMON: EMbedded MONitoring, a three-year Framework 7 ARTEMIS JTI project