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Urban Innovation Research

Using urban sensing, analytics, and community engagement to make sense of global trends

Why cities?

Sustainable urbanization and climate adaptation are global challenges, but their impacts are felt locally – in cities and neighborhoods. We are using urban sensing, analytics, and community engagement to make sense of these global trends at hyperlocal scales and help empower cities and communities to build their capacity for resilience.

Air quality, for example, contributes to over 7 million premature deaths globally each year, but we know remarkably little about how air quality varies between or even within neighborhoods. By building air quality sensor networks at the neighborhood scale, and engaging local communities, we are seeking to make this invisible killer visible and actionable.

Urban Innovation - Earth Day 2022 weekend with EcoPod

EcoPod in Chicago

Microsoft’s EcoPod kicks off its Chicago tour for Earth Day on April 23rd followed by a series of events across the city through the end of May. EcoPod will be joined by local partners to share environmental insights and activities with the community. Stop by and visit us!

Urban Innovation - Project Eclipse sensor network map in Chicago

Air quality measurement in Chicago

Urban Innovation has partnered with JCDecaux and Array of Things to deploy over 100 low-cost air pollution sensors across the city of Chicago in what may be the densest real-time air quality monitoring network deployed in any major US city. We worked with the Environmental Law and Policy Center to create a mini-grant program that supports local stakeholders and community scientists in identifying locations and making data digestible and relevant; we are also partnering with academics and city stakeholders to make the data actionable. For residents, we have a website that enables anybody at a selected bus stop to scan a QR code and see their air quality in real time. Residents of Chicago can now see live air quality data in their own neighborhood.

Urban Innovations: Chicago logo with red star and blue box Urban Innovations: JCDecaux logo Urban Innovations: Array of Things logo Environmental Law and Policy Center Logo


Project Eclipse provides a full-stack solution for hyperlocal urban air quality sensing. Learn more >

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We’ve developed a real-time calibration solution to help users monitor and get insight from the data.

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We are partnering with city governments and community groups to build actionable data experiences.

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About Urban Innovation at Microsoft Research

Microsoft researchers working in Urban Innovation study and build technology to help shape the future of urban environments. Expertise in design, hardware and software prototyping and deployment, electrical engineering, biology, chemistry, and social and data science, is combined to target three application areas: climate change and related environmental effects on society; productivity and the economic health of cities; social equity and the health of people and their communities.

Urban Innovation environment - garden space in the midst of city buildings


Neighborhood level environmental measurement for equitable urban climate resilience. Check out Project Eclipse.

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Analyzing large datasets can help anticipate and prepare for regional shifts in population and employment trends.

group photo at the EcoPod Chicago Humboldt event


Microsoft’s EcoPod pop-up lab brings residents together with scientists & technologists to understand environmental data from their neighborhood.

Watch on demand

Learn how Project Eclipse is promoting climate equity and resilience in cities via hyperlocal environmental sensing. Presented by Scott Counts, Senior Principal Research Manager, from Microsoft Research, Redmond.

This panel convenes government, academic, civic tech, and community science leaders from Chicago to discuss the challenges and opportunities of monitoring environmental exposures at the neighborhood scale.