GoalThe main goal of the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (SSC) is to foster cross-disciplinary research, training, and outreach that integrate health, socio-economic impacts, and infrastructure design for the purpose of developing innovative solutions for sustainable smart cities and communities. Specifically, the Center brings together multidisciplinary faculty with diverse expertise (green construction materials; sustainable building and design concepts; social impacts of technology; modeling and simulation; medical sociology, health informatics, and social psychology; public health, emergency preparedness and response, and community resiliency; and government and public policy) to develop tools and methods for sustainable infrastructure design.
With this cross-disciplinary innovation the Center provides an enabling platform to become an agent of change in public policy, to impact human interaction with the environment and to shift the paradigm of urban infrastructure to one that is economically affluent, environmentally responsible, and socially equitable.
RationaleMore than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The challenges presented by urban development are immense. Cities are responsible for around 75% of all energy used, 60% of all water consumed, and 80% of all greenhouse gases produced worldwide. In 2010, 83% of Americans lived in cities, and by 2050 the number will increase to 90%. Cities are the engines of growth in the U.S., but also at the core of major sustainability issues as their large populations and extensive, resource-intensive economic activity generate environmental pollution and consume scarce natural resources. Metropolitan areas also exhibit some of the most serious social equity problems.
As the world’s population continues to urbanize, metropolitan areas will increasingly be the focal point of environmental protection, social justice, energy conservation, and greenhouse gas reduction policies. To face the challenges arising from urbanization, we need sustainable smart cities with significantly improved infrastructure that makes them environmentally friendly, increases their residents’ quality of life, and cuts costs all at the same time.
A sustainable urban area is characterized by the preservation of natural environment, use of renewable or highly efficient energy resources, healthy population with access to health services, and the presence of economic vitality, social equity, and engaged citizenry. Such sustainability can be achieved with an integrated approach that includes environmental management; counter-sprawl measures; linkages between community, ecology, and economy; and coordinated stakeholder interaction.