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How would you feel if your best friend in your twilight years was a robot? It’s one of the many thought-provoking questions being posed at QUT’s Robotronica event on Sunday.
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Director of the QUT Design Lab, Professor Marcus Foth has received a prestigious honour by being named a fellow of the Australian Computer Society (ACS).
Professor Foth founded the Urban Informatics Research Lab at QUT in 2006. Ahead of their time and before the term “smart cities” was as popular as it is today, Foth and his team pioneered a new field of study and practice.
Urban informatics examines people creating, applying and using information and communication technology and data in cities and urban environments. It was the first research group in the world explicitly named to reflect its dedication to the study of urban informatics.
Professor Foth’s 2009 Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics was the first to charter this new transdisciplinary research terrain, bringing together three broad domains: the social sciences and humanities; architecture, design, planning and the built environment, and; computer science and information technology.
The ACS citation recognised: “Professor Foth has made a sustained and distinguished contribution to the field of computer science that directly coincides with a historic moment: Cities house major infrastructures and most of the world’s population.”
“Embedded in ubiquitous computing and human-computer interaction, Foth is the international thought leader who coined the term urban informatics – now adopted by universities and industry worldwide.”
“Foth’s work makes clear how academic research can successfully respond to societal challenges.”
Professor Foth’s fellowship follows a range of accolades to his outstanding career including being appointed an Honorary Professor in 2016 by the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University, Denmark.
In 2013, he received a Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award. He was also inducted by the planning and design network Planetizen to the world’s top 25 leading thinkers and innovators in the field of urban planning and technology.
In collaboration with the Open Data Institute Queensland, Professor Foth brought the international and rapidly expanding Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC) network to Australia with the goal of implementing open standards and creating an open smart city market based on the needs of cities and communities.
“It is exciting to see our work receiving renewed attention from industry and local governments with the recent release of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program by the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,” Professor Foth said.
“We celebrated the lab’s 10 year anniversary last year, and are only now slowly realising that we have been trailblazers without knowing it at the time. And we want to remain at the cutting edge by seeking out critical research topics such as, the sociocultural impact of big data and algorithms on cities; combining physical and digital opportunities to design better citizen engagement, and; the potential of blockchain and distributed ledger technology.”
Professor Foth received the great news from the ACS while in Europe by invitation of Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, where he delivered a keynote talk on Smart Cities, Urban Informatics, and Sustainability: Challenges & Opportunities.
Professor Foth’s eminence in the smart city research field was further cemented by the Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand recently appointing him to the newly established Built Environment Task Force for Smart Cities.
Professor Foth has authored and co-authored over 170 peer reviewed publications including journal articles, books and book chapters, and papers in conference proceedings. The Urban Informatics Research Lab is now led by Dr Jaz Choi and has become part of the QUT Design Lab, which was established in 2016 with Professor Foth taking on the role of founding director.
QUT is part of a national collaborative group of five major Australian universities that form the ATN (Australian Technology Network of Universities
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Professor Marcus Foth, QUT Design Lab director. Photo: QUT Marketing & Communication/Anthony Weate