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University launches building blocks for smart city futures

A new short course exploring how future technology can improve city living will be amongst the first in the world to use Lego in its teaching when it launches this year.

Birmingham City University’s Co-developing a real Smart City: planning for future of living training workshop offers participants the opportunity to learn about smart city development in an innovative way at three different levels, using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® as a tool to visualise change.

Aimed at city planners and authorities, metropolitan mayors and city councillors, government advisors, policymakers and related disciplines, the one to five day course covers how communication between systems, processes, data, people, and technology can help address urbanisation issues such as traffic congestion, pollution, health, infrastructure, and waste management.

The short course will use the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method to address problem-solving through building 3D models to illustrate how different components of a smart city can interact with one another to improve our personal and professional lives. This process will equip participants with the understanding and skills to employ smart technology and engineering processes in the real world.

The course will be delivered by academic Dr Vahid Javidroozi, a Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham City University’s School of Computing and Digital Technology, who has been researching and teaching smart city subjects, especially city systems integration and city process change topics, since 2013. Speaking ahead of the course launch in May 2021, Dr Javidroozi said:

"The eight years of academic research, development, and teaching experience behind this course makes it a novel and unique learning experience, which will enhance the participants’ knowledge for developing a real smart city and for progressing their current smart city projects.

“The term “real” means that despite usual smart city courses/projects, which mainly focuses on a particular aspect, especially the technology, this course provides a comprehensive learning regarding all features of smart city.

“Covering the necessities, challenges, and building blocks in a structured and academic manner, participants can design a holistic view of their smart cities, which will help them to realise their status and develop their smart city roadmap”.

Co-developing a real Smart City: planning for future of living will be launched alongside the short Paper Writing Workshop course, which will enable those taking part to learn, prepare and produce an academic paper for publication in just eight weeks – also believed to be amongst the first of its kind at any HE institution.

Designed to demystify the process of writing a paper for publication, converting research ideas, and mapping out project output, organisational achievements and research progress into a paper in collaboration with other peers, those signing up to the course will be trained to prepare a high quality paper for publication in a short period of time. Professor Hanifa Shah, Executive Dean at Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, added:

“University staff have state-of the-art knowledge and skills in many technologies while also advancing and creating new understanding through research and development activities. We are delighted to offer innovative workshops around our exciting research topics such as smart cities.

"Our research is applied in nature and closely related to finding solutions to issues and problems faced by industry and society. We are experts at publishing our work in leading academic journals and conferences. Through our series of workshops, we are pleased to share this expertise more widely.”

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