Center for Interacting Urban Networks

The United Nations estimates over 60 percent of the population will live in urban areas by 2030. This rapid rate of urbanization is putting additional strain on urban systems and posing across a multitude of sectors new challenges such as increasing population, migration, economic instabilities and disparities, health threats, and extreme weather events. Interdisciplinary research has been established at NYU Abu Dhabi to address these challenges.

The Center for Interacting Urban Networks promotes excellence in research that leads to real improvements in terms of economic opportunity and growth, safety and security, health and wellness, and the overall quality and sustainability of everyday life in urban areas. It is fundamental research that can ultimately be translated into pragmatic ideas for increasing the livability of our cities, with a special emphasis in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

Fully aligned with Abu Dhabi 2030 vision, the vision of the Center includes an ambitious Urban Development Plan focusing on six key directions: Sustainability, Unique Environment, Evolving Culture, Identity and Opportunity, Connectivity, Excellence and Livability. 

More in detail, research activities in CITIES focus on the interactions among three of the main layers that compose each city: (i) the physical layer, which includes physical infrastructure, instrumentation, and networks of devices; (ii) the digital layer, which includes data produced by human, devices, and sensors; and (iii) the social layer, which includes humans, their interactions, and the social networks that transpire. From such interactions four research clusters emerge around which CITIES is structured:

  • The Digital-Physical Nexus leverages and develops digital technologies geared towards the efficient operation of urban systems, including the instrumentation of large areas to enable data-driven insights.
  • The Physical-Social Nexus takes a human-in-the-loop approach to address current and future physical infrastructure needs with an emphasis on long-term sustainability.
  • The Social-Digital Nexus studies the mechanisms by which digital networks influence social change and applies this understanding to induce changes in individual behavior that lead to collective improvements in the quality of life in urban spaces.
  • The Intra-Inter-City Nexus explores interconnections between multiple networks within and across cities, to better guide the evolution of a highly connected world.

CITIES’ Post-graduation Research Fellowship

The CITIES’ Post-graduation Research Fellowship in the Center of Interacting Urban Networks (CITIES) at NYU Abu Dhabi is designed to support an exceptional NYUAD graduating senior with a demonstrated interest in academia, by providing a competitive opportunity for a prestigious one-year fellowship. This Fellowship Program aims to retain outstanding academic talent within the region, and contribute to the growth and development of research in the UAE. It is an excellent opportunity for students to explore research directions and graduate school possibilities, specifically in the area of urban science, spanning disciplines from Engineering, through Computer Science, Sociology, History and the Arts.

Researcher Spotlight

Urban Family Planning

Professor Monica Menendez' journey balancing cutting-edge research and motherhood.

Event Spotlight

Work With Us


Monica Menendez
Associate Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering
Azza Abouzied
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Saif Jabrari
Assistant Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering
Kinga Makovi
Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy