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CITP Seminar: Elie Bou-Zeid – An Equitable Technological Future for Cities

Tuesday, October 4, 2022
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


306 Sherrerd Hall
Photo Elie Bou-Zeid

Video available here.

Will artificial intelligence correct or perpetuate historic discriminatory practices in cities? Will urban heat mitigation strategies and new ecosystem amenities be deployed fairly across all neighborhoods? Will new mobility technologies be accessible to all citizens and localities? Will new policing or security technology deployment have intended or unintended bias? Who will pay to bring urban infrastructure into the 21st century? Who owns the data collected by the myriad smart devices in the internet of things and who is trusted to oversee the use of these data? Who is responsible when technology does not function as intended?

As cities begin a deep, but slow, technological transformation, these are some of the questions that emerge and that will require open debate, broad stakeholder engagement, and new legal and policy frameworks. This talk does not answer any of these questions, but it puts them in the context of accelerating urbanization and the broad challenges and opportunities cities will face in the coming decades, and it offers a plausible framework for engaging with the intellectual dilemmas they pose in terms of access to, benefits of, and the ultimate goal of deploying new technologies in cities.


Elie Bou-Zeid is professor of civil and environmental engineering. He was the director of the Metropolis Project for urban technology at Princeton University until 2022. He is also associated faculty with the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department. An expert in geophysics and atmospheric sciences, his research is broadly focused on measurement and modelling of material and energy transfers in the lower atmosphere, with applications to urban environmental quality, building energy efficiency, wind energy production, and polar sea ice fluctuations. He is editor of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, and a co-author of the NSF-sponsored report on Urban Climate and Resiliency aimed at understanding the role of megacities on global climate, and developing strategies to equitable improve urban climate-resilience and  and reduce urban atmospheric greenhouse emissions. Bou-Zeid holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in environmental engineering and water resources from the American University of Beirut, and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Johns Hopkins University.