Guan Chenghe and Li Ying: Digital Transformation for Healthy Cities

banner for LOUD

In April 2023, NYU Shanghai officially launched the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Urban Design and Urban Science (LOUD), its first provincial and ministerial-level key laboratory. 

LOUD Directors Guan Chenghe, assistant professor of Urban Science and Policy, and Li Ying, assistant professor of practice in Urban Studies, have been collaborating for a decade on urban development research in China. LOUD grew out of a lab the two established at NYU Shanghai in 2019. 


What research areas does LOUD focus on?  

Our Lab primarily focuses on urban design and urban science. As traditional approaches in urban design have proved inadequate to address many issues for cities post-COVID cities, we combine research methods from both fields to study the patterns and practices of urban development in China. With the support of the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality, LOUD is dedicated to researching the digital health transformation of cities, with multidisciplinary integration of urban planning, urban data science, urban ecology, and urban geography. Our researchers prioritize three research topics: sustainable post-pandemic cities in the framework of digital and healthy urban transformation, low-carbon cities against climate change, and blue and green infrastructure (BGI) for environmentally sensitive cities with social sensing techniques.


What is LOUD’s mission? 

LOUD aims to create a comprehensive data pool in the university for cutting-edge urban research and to foster a world-class and truly global academic platform where researchers at home and abroad can share ideas and collaborate beyond boundaries. 

We also want to make practical contributions to  Pudong New District and Shanghai by focusing on digitalization, healthy cities, and metaverse technologies of urban development. For example, we collaborated with the Shanghai Big Data Center to optimize and predict the distribution of nucleic acid testing during the COVID-19 so as to find a balance between convenience for citizens and lower costs for the government. Drawing on our extensive experience in urban research at home and abroad, we apply various urban development cases to research and consult on projects in the Yangtze River Delta and beyond. Through this approach, we develop innovative case studies and provide valuable advice for urban development policy-making.

Moreover, post-COVID urban planning is not only a challenge for Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta region, but also a shared issue for other countries and regions. In light of digital transformation in the post-pandemic era, we aim to employ scientific research to help China's urban culture and experience go global.


What are LOUD’s unique strengths?

We have a very diverse team. Professor Li and I (Prof Guan) are focused on integrating urban design and planning, urban science and data science, and urban spatial analysis. Since its founding, LOUD has produced a significant number of high-quality papers, with over 50 published in SCIE and SSCI journals, including prestigious journals such as Nature Communications, the sub-journal of Nature; Cities; and Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science.

NYU Shanghai’s abundant international resources attract students and scholars from top universities, offering them opportunities for international collaborations. Thanks to NYU's global network, LOUD members can work with researchers from NYU campuses and study centers worldwide. For example, together with NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, we launched a PhD program in Public Administration that allows students to have overseas experience and conduct research about China. In addition, we have established collaborative relationships with domestic and international universities, such as Harvard University, Oxford University, the University of Tokyo, Peking University, Fudan University, University of Chicago, University of Melbourne, East China Normal University, Tongji University, and Southeast University. Last year, LOUD launched a joint postdoctoral program with Oxford University, enabling postdocs to study and conduct research at both NYU Shanghai and Oxford. The NYU Shanghai-ECNU Joint Post-Doc Training Program was also launched, thanks to the support from Pudong New District., 

Language and cultural differences are often considered as one of the greatest challenges in international collaboration for urban research. NYU Shanghai is committed to listening to the needs of international collaborators to understand each other's cultures, and our members enjoy seamless communication with international researchers. We have effectively bridged the language and cultural gaps in collaborative research by solving problems in a shared language on an equal footing,

Additionally, through international collaboration, we have better and easier access to valuable data resources from partner universities, cities, and even countries. Our recent collaboration with the University of Tokyo, for example, utilized mobile phone data collected from Tokyo mobile providers.


What are LOUD’s future prospects?

As we move forward, we aspire to maintain our competitive advantages and model ourselves after national key labs. We want our research to contribute to society and support decision-makers in Shanghai, China, and other countries. We also aim to foster a new generation of young scholars dedicated to urban research in the post-COVID era who will make our world a better place. We hope LOUD will be nationally recognized as a research center with a global impact.