Urban Innovation Research

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.

Eclipse Sensor Network - Chicago map

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 logoUrban Innovations: Environmental Law & Policy Center logo Urban Innovations: City Tech Collaborative logo

Sense

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

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Build

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

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Engage

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

Environment

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

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Economy

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

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Community

Building tools and experiences, like Ecopod, for communities/cities to help promote awareness and positive change.

Engagement opportunities

Microsoft Urban Futures Summer Workshop

In July 2020, Microsoft Research brought together more than 100 experts for a conversation on data driven urban transformation. The three-day workshop produced a coalition of civic, academic and research leaders and a series of papers examining options for improving the future of cities.

Summer Internship 2022

Microsoft Research is seeking research interns for summer 2022. Help us pursue state of the art science and technology development for urbanization and climate change. Opportunities are available in computer science, engineering, design, social, health, machine learning, and environmental science.