03/01: Consul General at 1st MIT Workshop on Urban Physics [fr]

On March 1, at 8:30 am at MIT Media Lab, Valéry Freland, Consul General of France in Boston, will give the opening address at the 1st MIT Workshop on Urban Physics. Organized by ?, the French-American MIT-CNRS Joint Laboratory, in partnership with TheCamp, the workshop will focus on the different ways in which we can make our cities more resilient, efficient and sustainable.


Through the prism of statistical physics and with the help of new technologies like remote sensing, speakers from <MSE>?, NYU-CUSP, TheCamp, Polytech’Marseille or MIT-CEE will explain to the audience why it is of utmost importance that we go beyond today’s imperfect and anecdotal views of cities, that we truly try to understand the various processes and phenomena determining the way cities function, in order to better address the questions of climate, traffic, energy and resource conservation. This is the reason why the workshop will bring together experts from urban observatories, like those from the French initiative TheCamp, and theoreticians capable of building models upon those observations, like Philippe Dumas, the French nanoscience specialist and President of Polytech’Marseille, along with prominent public figures, able to publicize and to make happen this kind of disruptive proposals, such as – of course – the Consul General of France in Boston, Valéry Freland.

The event will start at 8:30 am, after 30 minutes of registration, with the Consul General’s opening remarks, and will be organized around four modules: Urban Challenges, Mobility, Energy and Climate, and Human Aspects. A wine and cheese reception, scheduled at 7:00 pm, will bring the workshop to a close.

Where: MIT Media Lab E14-674, 75 Amherst St, Cambridge, MA 02139
When: March 1, 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
To register, just follow the link.
Organized by <MSE>?, CNRS and MIT Energy Initiative in partnership with TheCamp.
Full program below:

PDF - 331.3 kb
(PDF - 331.3 kb)

About the Workshop: Scope and Goals

About half of humanity lives in urban environments today and that number will grow to 80% by the middle of this century. North America is already urbanized at 80%, a percentage that will reach 90% by 2050. Cities have to be efficient, resilient and sustainable, and they must address various quality of life issues for their citizens.
To achieve these goals, one has to understand the various processes and phenomena that determine the functionning of cities. Exemples to be addressed in this workshop include climate, traffic, energy and resource conservation. The MIT-CNRS Joint Laboratory expects that concepts from statistical physics can take us beyond today’s imperfect and often anecdotal view of cities. Today, new technologies provide opportunities for sensors to acquire a plethora of data with high spatial and temporal resolution, including light, temperature, wind, pollution, traffic flow, and even personal information on location, activity and physiology. Remote sensing also offers new possibilites. Instruments on tall buildings can monitor visible, infrared, and radar images, and hence provide another valuable source of experimental data. Statistical analysis of these data can help to build models that describe observations and help explaining them and ultimately lead to a better understanding and to an optimization of processes in cities.

The scope of this workshop is to bring together experts from urban "observatories" that collect various data within cities, and theoreticians that can build models based on those data and deduce from them general laws and concepts that can be applied to planning and optimizations of cities. Employing a "by-analogy" strategy, the MIT-CNRS Joint Laboratory expects to apply successfully smaller scale concepts of statistical physics and corresponding results to study related effects at the much larger scales of cities. Particular aspects of urban physics are the following, to name a few: (1) so-called urban heat island that refers to an elevation in urban surface and air temperatures over rural air temperatures, (2) the study of vehicular traffic flow, the formation of traffic jams, and the related optimization of travel times and energy consumption.


  • Valery Freland (Consul General of France, Boston)
  • Edith Ackermann (MIT)
  • Milad Aghamohamadnia (NYU-CUSP)
  • Mehdi Akbarian (MIT-CEE)
  • Jean-Paul Bailly (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Yaneer Bar-Tam (MIT & New England Complex Systems Institute)
  • Johan Bencivenga * (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Luis Bettencourt (Santa Fe Institute)
  • Eric Burkel (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Frédéric Chevalier (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • François Creton (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Greg Dobler (NYU CUSP)
  • Philippe Dumas (Marseille Polytechnique)
  • Masoud Ghandehari (NYU-CUSP)
  • Filip Gluszak (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Marta Gonzalez (MIT-CEE)
  • Thomas Houdaille (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Brian Vant Hull (City University of NY)
  • Andreas Karpf (NYU-CUSP)
  • Constantine Kontokosta (NYU-CUSP)
  • Paul Molga (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Christoph Reinhart (MIT, Head Sustainable Design Lab)
  • Michael Schreckenberg (University Duisburg, Germany)
  • Jake Sobstyl (MIT-CEE)
  • Olivier Tresquet * (TheCamp, Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Bernd Widdig (Director of international affairs, MIT)

Last modified on 25/02/2016

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