Research approach

Researchers interact with each other

Tomorrow’s Cities will enhance risk-sensitive urban development through a global network of interdisciplinary, equitable partnerships and problem-focused research programmes, led by local teams in Quito, Kathmandu, Istanbul and Nairobi.

Details of each city’s approach can be found on our Focus cities page.

All activity is aimed at bringing together communities at risk, community leaders, city authorities and researchers to support momentum towards inclusive, sustainable and resilient urban futures. It is through the combination of new data, understanding, voice and relationships that cities can move from places of risk accumulation to places of risk reduction.

Research integration and impact is fostered through five Research Colleges, covering societal context, infrastructure for resilience, hazards, risk and integrating concepts and technologies. These are explained below.

Societal context research themes

This research college supports analysis into how interlinked physical and social root causes lead natural hazards to become disasters. It explores areas spanning equitable governance, leadership across scales and sectors, political economy, culture and identity. It also looks at the use of technological solutions within individual contexts, institutional structures and political situations.

Infrastructure for resilience research themes

This research college looks at three main systems whose functioning and interrelationships underpin urban development: physical infrastructure, community infrastructure and financial infrastructure. It provides an overarching framework for the development of more holistic and practical resilience-enhancing solutions.

Hazards research themes

This research college looks to develop methods for multi-hazard modelling scenarios and forecasting risks, producing susceptibility maps and improving early-warning and decision-making. This includes the use of citizen science, local knowledge, community-level assessments, remote sensing and development of new low-cost sensors. Hazards assessed include floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes and fires.

Risk research themes

This research college looks to provide novel assessments of risk, with complementary approaches scaling from global to local and local to global. It will combine these assessments with social, environmental and economic data to identify risk drivers and outcomes, and identify politically and economically effective options for enhancing risk management.

Integrating concepts and technologies research themes

This research college will coordinate cross-cutting themes common to all pathways to impact, supporting cross-pollination of tools and methods. This covers Earth observation, communication, modelling, education, data management, citizen science, multi-hazard, low-cost multi-hazard sensors, and monitoring, evaluation and learning.