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and industry in
he iSmart Cen-
ter’s task is to con-
analyses in the design and
development of sustainable
infrastructure systems at the
interface of technology and
society, and to make the tran-
sition to sustainable devel-
opment models in the UAE
Focusing on the specific
sectors of energy and water, transportation and logis-
tics, communications, and industry, its goal is to pro-
vide the government and other domestic stakeholders
with constructive input, both on how these parts of the
infrastructure complex can be improved separately and
how they can operate as an integrated system. The idea
is to help inform decision makers by taking research
from model-driven systems analyses and design and
showing how it is applicable. Building on Masdar Insti-
tute’s research portfolio, the resulting studies can range
from optimal scheduling for port operations, to surveys
about the adoption of electric vehicles, to investigations
of long-term sustainable-energy transition plans for
countries throughout the region.
Research areas include regulatory policy analy-
sis and managerial options analysis for the sectors of
interest. iSmart will also work on development and
application of systems design and analysis method-
ologies, including simulation analysis, social dynam-
ics modeling, surveys and interviews, optimization,
techno-economic and financial analysis, algorithms for
smart system deployment, and lifecycle assessment.
Ultimately iSmart will work as a testing ground for
how countries in the region can use alternative poli-
cies derived from rigorous analysis to increase their
economic performance in a sustainable way.
“Our recipe for conducting this type of interdis-
ciplinary research is to bring together talent that has
a strong foundation in engineering and computer
science but is united by a common interest in com-
plex systems analysis and modeling,” said Dr. Sgouris
Sgouridis, iSmart head and associate professor of engi-
neering systems and management at Masdar Institute.
“My main concern is achieving economic devel-
opment without sacrificing the environment,” he said.
“The ability to maintain the long-term strategic view
in the face of a volatile international market is key, as
is the desire to achieve long-term sustainability and
build-out of the necessary infrastructure.”
A Clean Energy Vision study was recently pub-
lished by Masdar Institute, and it exemplifies the type
of research that the center undertakes. It examines,
with the help of integrated energy modeling, how a
sustainable energy transition can be realized, and even
work to the financial advantage of the UAE despite the
high costs of implementation.
Developing local talent who can one day become
leaders in organizations across the region underlies
the center’s broader goals. As a new generation is
trained and groomed, its members will be learning
not just from Masdar Institute’s own distinguished
faculty but also from collaborations with local and
regional industries and with companies like Mubadala,
an investment and development company focused on
the diversification of the national economy.
Both government and industry are likely to
be drawn to the iSmart Center for the advantages
it provides to collaborative projects. Its high qual-
ity research talent is able to devote more time and
resources toward solving a problem than can a typi-
cal consultant, and to focus on the innovative thinking
that university research facilitates.
This question of how to prepare a society, insti-
tutionally and technologically, for change and tran-
sition to a different kind of future is not an easy one;
but it is a question countries around the world are
increasingly asking themselves as they face carbon
constraints in the form of global warming and the end
of the cheap oil era.
To that end the center will be looking to lever-
age the unique environment of Masdar City, which
includes a working personal rapid transit sys-
tem (autonomous pod cars), a budding smart grid,
advanced building management systems, and installed
renewable energy capacity, to investigate how users
interact with these technologies, and to derive lessons
for their more widespread application.
iSmart will likely be looking at how to take
these types of technology and scale them in the most
Its next step is taking this focused research and
making it work on the ground. Strong and sustained
policy is necessary to make it happen.
“Policy is a real innovation driver. Without the
appropriate policy even the best technology will not be
able to change anything, as the examples of Germany
and China with photovoltaics and Denmark with wind
demonstrate,” said Sgouridis. These countries’ proac-
tive policies, including subsidy models, have helped
them take leading roles in those sectors.
A solar panel field in Masdar City, powering one of the smart
grid systems that iSmart’s research is working to improve.
10/8/13 4:03 PM
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