Solutions for Sentient and Cognitive Cities     


 Priscilla Barreira Avegliano photoCarlos Cardonha photo

Solutions for Sentient and Cognitive Cities - overview


The concept of Smarter City provides a unique opportunity to address many urban ills such as segregation, congestion, polarization that continue to dominate urban life. This project aims to develop novel techniques to promote citizen engagement, community interaction, and citizen participation, allowing them to actively observe, report, analyze, and disseminate information about the city they live in.


This technology will enable us to reach much further in heading towards more sustainable urban environments by enabling:

  • A better understanding of how cities function through the synthesis of citizen generated reports, automated sensed data available in real time or near real time, and new models to analyze, correlate, and visualize this information.
  • A better forecasting and decision-making based on interactive simulation models generating future outcomes that can be tested ever more frequently, which will form a cornerstone, along with big data and its visualization, in many different forums for public participation.
  • New forms of participatory design involving many different communities of interest who will engage through new forms of visualizing their urban future and the liveability of the places they inhabit.
  • A new understanding of how populations are able to create sustainable cities where computing solutions might be used at all stages of city design and regeneration from analysis to action, and embedding the very technologies we use for analysis, design, and participation into the urban form and fabric itself.

Research Agenda

Our research agenda revolves around the issues about citizen participation and community engagement. We are developing data collection technologies integrated to advanced Social Analytics and Predictive Analytic models. The research questions are related to:

  • Node classification in urban social networks.
  • Analysis and understanding of Community formation and evolution.
  • Observations on Social Influence and its impact on community development.
  • Predictive models for social behavior and community evolution.
  • Impact of the surrounding environment (context) on social behavior.

The solution advances the state-of-the-art in urban planning and management by providing:

  • End-to-end Solution for Citizen Sensing and social engagement, that can be scaled to cities of any size and applied to coordinate large events (e.g. crowd gatherings, sports games), emergency relief coordination, infrastructure planning, traffic monitoring, and others.
  • Enhanced Analytic Models to identify trends and operational patterns in social interactions, anticipate emerging situations impacting society, and provide insightful information to decision makers.
  • Advanced Social Simulations to be able to simulate interactions between the population and city infrastructure, supporting the anticipation and composition of “what if” scenarios.
  • Recommendation Systems that leverage from these technologies and work closely with city leaders and deliver recommendations.

Current Initiatives

Figure 1 – Current Developments

We are working on the research and development of Citizen Sensors for both (i) intentional feedback and (ii) non-intentional feedback. These applications are integrated to the back-end infrastructures to collect, classify, filter, and correlate data. A good part of the innovation in our research is on innovative Social Analytic models to classify, understand, and predict social behavior out of this information.

Some of the current developments are listed below, as depicted in Figure 1:

  1. Smarter Citizen Sensor: we are developing applications for participatory sensing . This is a form of intentional feedback that can be applied to “feel the pulse” of the city with regards to infrastructure problems, points of interest, sustainability issues, and others.
  2. Breadcrumb: provides a solution to automatically collect data from mobile devices' sensors. This is a form of non-intentional feedback used to create maps of human mobility that can be applied to construct accessibility maps, human fluid models, and others.
  3. Smarter City Companion: this is a platform for Intelligent Navigation Guides that take in consideration contextual data and Citizen Sensor Reports to provide in situ navigation advise to pedestrians, people with disabilities, tourists, maintenance crews, and others.
  4. Smarter Board: provides a solution for “social media for local community”, allowing the communication over text messages and a open-display. The messages are classified in distinct columns (e.g. job offerings, looking for jobs, announcements, news, etc). Social Analytics that can be used in order to infer social intelligence, patterns and trends in social behavior, and to understand the communities' needs. We intend to apply proven techniques to identify sentiments and learn the needs and requirements of target communities by observing and analyzing message exchange of peers and in-group.


For more information, please contact:
Diego Sanchez Gallo
Systems of Engagement and Insight
IBM Research - Brazil


IBM Software

We are either applying or considering the following IBM software in this project: