Contemporary urbanization is accompanied by many challenges with regard to the quality of urban life. In the literature and recent urban policy and planning debates, geo-technologies - defined as the ensemble of tools, devices and infrastructures to acquire, process and visualize geo-spatial data (e.g. Geographic Information Systems, spatial simulation tools, location-based technologies) - are seen as crucial for addressing pressing urban issues such as basic service provision, disaster risk reduction, urban mobility or urban poverty.
Geo-technologies are increasingly embedded into urban governance, planning and management processes, the daily lives of urban residents and private sector analytics. Drawing heavily on recent developments in data analytics and advanced computing, many cities across the globe have the vision to become smart, sustainable, resilient and inclusive. However, such a purely technocratic approach, is critiqued for its narrow vision, positivist assumptions, exclusionary effects, controversial impacts on empowerment, privacy, and surveillance, and its inability to represent complex issues, is inappropriate. Rather, being smart requires a socio-technical perspective to the adoption of geo-technologies. An approach that gives due attention to how geo-technologies shape, and are shaped by, human agency. Moreover, an approach that seeks to support inclusive urbanism, looking beyond the bureaucracy and business interests to encompass bottom-up initiatives from citizens and civil society.
At ITC, we focus on fundamental and problem-solving research where spatial information can make a real difference. Our scientific staff en PhD candidates in the field of smart cities research topics such as UAV-based slum mapping, the development of an indoor mobile mapping system and indoor 3D model reconstruction to support disaster management in large buildings.
ITC is known to be one of the top institutes worldwide in the field of Geo-information science and earth observation. At ITC, we train students to engineer approaches for designing future-oriented solutions to the world's biggest challenges. We encourage our students to participate in public-private partnership projects initiated by ITC and other organizations.