Strategic Network: Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems (DACAS)

Project Details


Urbanisation has been declared a planetary condition. Cities and urban processes have moved to the core of research agendas across several academic disciplines and interdisciplinary fields. New analytical frameworks and practical tools are needed to model, understand and manage urban transformations. Yet despite the increasing availability of urban (big) data and methods of analysis with the potential to allow an evidence-based understanding of socio-spatial change in different geographical contexts, current approaches fail to understand cities as complex adaptive systems. Although smart cities are seen as offering solutions to pressing global challenges, mainstream strategies do not yet offer an in-depth understanding of correlations and causalities between different urban systems and fail to address the links between 'soft' (economic, ecological and social) and 'hard' (engineered) systems. However, the ability to link and model different kinds of urban data and systems is indispensable for a holistic understanding of cities as complex adaptive systems and will be agenda-setting
for future urban research and practice.
The international Strategic Network Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems (DACAS) aims to promote a decisively interdisciplinary approach to understanding urban processes and transformations through (big) urban data using a complexity science framework.
The Strategic Network has three objectives:
(a) DACAS will bring together noted academics with backgrounds in the social and natural sciences, including architects, engineers, physicists, geographers, mathematicians and ecological economists. Network activities will clarify and calibrate common interdisciplinary terminology using a complexity science framework. Relevant urban systems data will be identified; data sources, structures and methods of acquisition will be compared and methods of data analysis will be tested through cross-case analysis of soft and hard urban data sets (Obj1). Network activities will establish if and how data can be used to link hard and soft urban systems. Modelling techniques will be compared and linked across disciplines and innovative protocols will be established to identify cause-effect relationships in large complex (urban) data sets (Obj2). Network activities will facilitate the development of practical tools and innovative technological applications to exploit (big) urban data, reflect urban complexity and aid urban policy-making and practice (Obj3).
(b) DACAS researchers will be based in Japan and the UK as well as Newton countries Brazil and China. Three events and one summer school (targeting specifically PhD and Early Career Researchers) will link academics with user communities from the public, private and third sectors. Two of these events will be hosted by our partners in Brazil and China.
Short titleR:HDA ESRC/IossifovaApr2015
Effective start/end date14/12/1530/06/17

Collaborative partners

  • The University of Manchester (lead)
  • University of Tokyo (Joint applicant)
  • United Nations University (Joint applicant)
  • Universidade de Sao Paulo (Collaborator)
  • University of Aberdeen (Joint applicant)
  • Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) (Joint applicant)

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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