SBASSE Holds Conference on Data-driven Policy-making
On Friday, June 17, the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE) at LUMS hosted academics, industry experts and government organisations for a two-day conference, Saving Our Cities: Looming Challenges and Data-driven Policy-making.
The event was part of a LUMS project, ‘Creating Technological Foundations of Data-Driven Policy-making for Sustainable Urban Development’ led by faculty members, Dr. Momin Ayub Uppal, Dr. Muhammad Tahir and Dr. Zubair Khalid, and funded by Higher Education Commission’s Grand Challenge Fund. The purpose of the conference was to apprise important stakeholders on the work done by the LUMS team in the past year and the several partnerships that have developed as a result.
Dr. Tariq Jadoon, Interim Provost, LUMS, gave a welcome address to inaugurate the event, and said, “It is really exciting that we live in an era where we have so much data available for us, which means there is a huge opportunity for all of us to make data driven policies. It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all, academics, researchers, policy-makers, to come together for solving challenging, yet interesting problems. This is something that can have an impact on the lives of all the people who live in the big sprawling cities of Pakistan.”
Dr. Uppal then gave a brief overview of the several activities undertaken by the LUMS team under the themes of urban development, mobility, environment and health. “Our vision was to promote innovation in technology and data-driven decision-making for the development of sustainable urban communities in Pakistan, all the while ensuring that the innovation incorporates acceptability, inclusivity, equity, and transparency,” he explained. He also highlighted the different academia-industry collaborations that were part of the project including initiatives with Jazz, Rescue 1122 and Chughtai Labs.
The conference itself was split into two themes; sessions about urban mobility and environment were held on day one and sessions about urban development and resilience, on day two. Speakers from national and international universities and industry partners, presented their solutions and research to tackle issues such as road traffic, mobility challenges, machine learning, climate change and urban planning. These focused conversations around the grand challenges of our time gave all the stakeholders a platform to exchange ideas and discuss future pathways for collaboration.
A student hackathon was also organised on the second day of the conference. Six teams from universities across Pakistan participated in the event and pitched ideas to tackle a range of problems including female mobility, solid waste management and traffic congestion. The aim of the hackathon to get the perspective of the youth especially young women for innovative ways to address the issues they face.
Dr. Tahir explained that the two-day conference was a reflection of the interdisciplinary nature of the entire project
that has seven principal investigators from the different schools and departments at LUMS and also engages a research and development workforce made up of postdoctoral fellows, research assistants and students. He shared that in addition to workshops and a conference, there were more activities planned by the team to engage stakeholders and the wider community in the coming months.