Beyond ‘Smart Cities’– Human Data Interaction and the Future of the City

This funding call has now closed.

This call is the second of nine from the EPSRC Network Plus in Human Data Interaction (HDI). Over the next two years, these projects will join us to define a new research agenda for ethical data-driven systems. All funded projects within this this call must apply or advance HDI concepts within the context of smart cities.

Scope of the call: Based on the outcomes of a recent cross-sectoral workshop, we particularly welcome proposals that address any of the following issues from the perspective of HDI:

  • Redesigning councils around data tech: too often, procurement processes are the bane of smart cities work, so: how can cities work in better ways? How can a city deflect the commercial push towards large-scale systems that are ‘canned’ generic products, rather than systems designed with and for it?
  • Individual versus the Collective: How to deal with the way that, in smart city systems, the benefits to one person may mean costs or losses to others? Similarly, benefits to one city area may negatively affect other areas, or affect rural regions.  How to design smart city systems in ways that take account of such inequalities and interdependencies?
  • The encouragement or imposition of behaviours: Many smart city designs imply or demand behavioural changes among citizens, but who defines these, and how? How to handle the surveillance and governance issues stemming from this ‘push’ by cities upon citizens?
  • How to trust data and services? Several of our workshop participants discussed variants of a ‘citizen science’ approach to trust, in which processes of data collection, measurement and evaluation are in the hands of citizens, so that they can act in a bottom-up way to feed into the processes of urban change. How can such citizen-led approaches create utile evidence for decision-making?

These issues are not exclusive, i.e. we will consider all proposals that address issues core to the advance of smart cities work. However, all projects must address one or more of the tenets of HDI (legibility, agency, negotiability).

Funding available via a simple, lightweight application process. In this call, we aim to fund one project at £50K, one at £10K, and 3 at £2.5K. We particularly welcome applications from early career researchers. Over the coming months there will be seven further calls under different themes. Please visit the HDI network’s web site, or follow us on Twitter, for updates.

Lead Organisation: To adhere to the conditions of funding, each project must be led by an academic institution. We encourage projects that represent more than one sector, and so we welcome projects with non-academic partners. Please visit the site ( to download an application form. If you have any questions, please contact hdi-network {at}

We encourage projects, if feasible, to make use of the University of Edinburghs IoT Testbed (, which has offered technological resources to projects within this call. (Briefly: a LoRaWAN testbed, and a real-time data visualisation and analytics platform for sensor data from that testbed.) Also, we note the technical resources offered by IBM to HDI network projects, giving access to and no-charge use of IBM Cloud software products under the terms of IBMs Academic Initiative.