The world’s urban centres are home to 4.5 billion people, more than half the world’s population. They are hubs for innovation and economic opportunity. But living in urban environments places stress on human mental and physical health, for example poor air quality results in an estimated 7 million deaths each year, and cities have been linked with a higher risk of depression and anxiety than rural areas. And, whilst in some cities communities thrive, in others communities fall apart.
Engineering is at the centre of how we design, build, operate, regenerate our cities and rebuild after disaster. From the critical infrastructure such as our water, sewage, energy, transportation and digital systems our daily lives rely on, to the way we experience a building, an open space, or a public space, cities are environments we have shaped and built for ourselves, masterminded and enabled largely by engineering.
With urban populations set to increase to 68% by 2050, how can we improve city design and infrastructure, by rethinking new technologies and infrastructure and retrofitting existing so that our urban centres become dynamic equitable places for people to live and thrive?
Make sure your design is consistent with the theme of World Engineering Day 2023: Engineering innovation for a more resilient world.
These challenges have been produced by Engineers Without Borders International
This challenge primarily supports the achievement of UN SDG 3:
An estimated 91% of people in urban areas breathe polluted air increasing their risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The increased noise and activity in cities contributes to increased risk of anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, stress and burnout, mood disorders and chronic fatigue, all of which can lead to further health disorders and compromised immunity. Sedentary lifestyles compromise physical and mental health, leading to higher levels of noncommunicable disease and injury. In addition, continued urbanisation is expected to lead to cities becoming epicentres of disease, where high densities enable swift transmission of vector-borne and infectious diseases.
Living in a city can have both positive and negative impacts on health. On the positive side, cities often have a higher concentration of healthcare facilities, public transportation, and opportunities for physical activity such as walking or biking. They may also have a greater variety of healthy food options.
On the negative side, cities can also have higher levels of air pollution, noise pollution, and crowded living conditions, which can contribute to stress and negatively impact physical and mental health. Cities may also have higher rates of crime and accidents, and the fast-paced lifestyle of city living can also contribute to stress and negative mental health outcomes. Social inequities are also compounded in cities, where the poorest neighbourhoods are often those with the fewest mobility, work and education opportunities, least access to health services, and the stark contrast with some of the richest neighbourhoods in the world that they coexist with further undermines mental health and wellbeing.
The climate crisis also poses significant risks to urban populations. More than two thirds of the world’s largest cities are coastal delta cities vulnerable to rising sea levels as a result of the climate crisis, exposing millions of people to the risk of extreme flooding and storms, leading to damaged infrastructure, polluted water systems, and the potential loss of homes and livelihoods. In particular, informal settlements are often on the most at-risk land putting those experiencing poverty at greatest risk.
Cities are also vulnerable to the rising temperatures caused by the climate crisis due to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, which shows urban areas are often 3 to 8 degrees Celsius warmer than rural areas. By 2050 more than 970 cities are projected to experience average summertime highs of 35 degrees Celsius / 95 degrees Fahrenheit putting millions, in particular the very young and the very old, at risk of extreme heat.
Submissions are due by January 22nd 2023 (midnight CET)
You and your team will need to:
Create an entry and complete the submission form
Upload your 5-min video submission
This guideline has been designed to support the development of an engineering solution that demonstrates a considered response to one of the engineering challenges and also how one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are advanced through engineering.
The success of an engineering project depends on much more than just the technical feasibility of the initial concept but also consideration of human factors, environmental context, cost and economic benefits, etc., are very important to the successful implementation of any innovative and ‘technically-sound’ idea.
Below are a series of considerations we recommend you factor into your solution to ensure it is appropriate to the context where it is to be implemented. You might ask yourself these questions a few times throughout the development process – it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers right away! How can you build on your original idea, to improve it each time?
Most effective technical solution for the context
Environmental sustainability outcomes
Engagement of key stakeholders
Are there any ethical considerations – such as adverse impacts to the environment, economy, social inclusion, culture, community, resource use, that warrant consideration?
How has your team utilised digital tools, for example to develop models of your proposed solution as part of the solution. Also how the team has utilised ICT in the process of putting forward your submission.
Cost estimates and economic and non-economic benefits
Based on the International Engineering Alliance Global Graduate Attribute and Professional Competencies Profiles.
Considering the proposal presented to you, evaluate whether the submission demonstrates the following engineering competencies.
Graduate Attributes that are addressed in the solution, referencing the International Engineering Alliance Graduate Attribute and Professional Competency (GAPC) Framework
Maximum Score per Category 4
Score: 0 – Not Addressed
Score: 1 – Limited attempt to address
Score: 2 – Some success in addressing the various elements
Score: 3 – Good attempt to address the element
Score: 4 – Addressed very effectively