Creating the data for vital urban living

Cities in Europe face challenges with traffic and pollution and so on. These challenges make it harder to live in the cities. Policymakers are searching for answers to the question what creates a vital urban life? EIT Digital finds this an intriguing question and wants to research how data can help answering it. Therefore, EIT Digital is offering an Industrial Doctorate position called City Enabler for Digital Urban Services (II).

Urban Vitality is referred to as the synergy arising from a variety of commercial and entertainment opportunities, and a dense socially heterogeneous pedestrian population.

EIT Digital is offering this Industrial Doctorate in cooperation with Fondazione Bruno Kessler and Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. from Italy.

EIT Digital's Action Line Leader Digital Cities, Stéphane Péan, says: "The position aims at pinpointing, through data analyses and simulation, the factors that stimulate the creation and up-keeping of vitality in a city, making it a better environment for citizen well-being and for creating and developing business."


With the digitalisation of many products and services cities collect a lot of urban data. It should be possible to use these data to enhance a vital urban life. However, these data are often closed within silos, making it hard for policymakers and urban services providers to get access to available and valuable knowledge. There is a strong need for novel approaches that help opening up, analysing and exploit all these scattered urban data from different sources, like open source, sensors, free data, closed data and linked data.


The PhD will leverage data from public actors and private entities to infer how cities and its neighbourhoods are vital and safe. He/she will investigate amongst others, the role the actors and entities play to drive innovations and to enforce a sense of community. Also, the PhD will research what influences the behaviours of people in terms of mobility, spending, and interaction patterns for example. In short, the PhD will identify urban conditions that magnify and influence urban life; study their relationship with cities' outcomes like innovation, vitality, quality of life, and social cohesion; and define new data-driven guidelines and tools responsive to the real-time demands of citizens and policy-makers.  

The main novelties of the intended outcomes will be both on the analytics side, where a multi-source integration of urban data will enrich predictive models of uban outcomes, for example traffic and liveability of an area. The Industrial Doctorate focusses on developing a data-driven computational framework to predict and enable so-called urban vitality using data mining and machine learning techniques.

Expected outcome

The PhD will design a framework to understand cities by using computational tools and new sources of data able to describe urban life with an unprecedented breadth, scale and depth.
The thesis will define the many potential policy applications of the approach, by building tools and data-driven services for the municipalities and their citizens. On the application side, the PhD provides a dashboard tool for policymakers to visualise daily urban dynamics and to test and simulate the effects of their decisions.

The insights from this thesis will be the basis for interventions in the Autonomous Province of Trento and on other municipalities in Italy, Europe and worldwide. FBK and Engineering are currently working with the cities of the FIWARE and OASC network in Europe, the city of Andorra, Bogotà in Colombia and can strongly support the student in this work providing opportunities for continuous feedback. In general, the proposed framework can easily be extended and applied by other municipalities.


The main location is Trento, where the student can benefit from the presence of both Engineering and FBK. During the PhD studies, the student will spend at least six months abroad, visiting a partner associated with one of the EIT Digital nodes. The partner will be selected within the FIWARE network, which is being reinforced in EIT Digital. Potential partners to work with are located in Madrid and Paris.


  • Available positions: 1
  • Industrial partner: Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. - ENG (Italy)
  • Academic/research partner: Fondazione Bruno Kessler - FBK (Italy)
  • HEI granting the title: ICT International Doctoral School - University of Trento
  • DTC location: Trento
  • PhD title granted by: University of Trento plus EIT Certificate
  • Duration: 3 years
  • This PhD will be funded by EIT Digital, Engineering and FBK.


Those interested in applying should fill in the application form on the website of The University of Trento.

Please apply before August 31, 2017.

Read here the full position paper

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