The UBI (UrBan Interactions) Research Program studies urban computing, the interaction between urban spaces, human, information technology and information.
Even though research of information technology has been done for a long time now, the study of urban computing, which examines systematically the application of information technology in urban environments, is relatively young. In addition to information technology and engineering sciences, this multidisciplinary research is based on architecture, media sciences, art, design, anthropology, psychology, sociology, economics and social sciences, among others.
The growth of the importance of urban computing is explained by ICT becoming more common and the urbanisation of the world. According to the UN, already 75% of the population of developed countries and half of the entire population of the world live in cities at the moment and the proportion of urban population is constantly increasing. For example, the average mobile phone penetration of the EU was 112% in the year 2007. According to Bluetooth SIG, by the end of the year 2007, that is ten years after the launch of Bluetooth technology, 1.5 billion Bluetooth radios had been brought to play in different devices. According to Intel, a new access point for a local area network is taken into use every four seconds. Large public displays are being installed both outdoors and indoors for informative and commercial communications. An ever increasing amount of different types of sensors, for example smart weather stations, surveillance cameras and traffic counters are located in urban environments.
The UBI Program combines the universities’ research and societal service duty in a valuable way. The researchers of the UBI Program have hitherto produced ca 100 scientific publications, many of which in leading conferences of the field. Alongside with the research, the UBI Program makes a significant contribution to the urban environment of Oulu. In combining the research and societal service duty, the city of Oulu has a key role as a co-financier and co-realiser.