Dr Lewis Makana, a Research Fellow at Birmingham, was recently awarded the Best Paper Award at the 5th International Conference on Utility Management and Safety (ICUMAS) in Hong Kong.

Dr Makana delivering a presentation at the 2017 ICUMAS Awards in Hong Kong

Dr Makana’s paper, Mapping and Assessing the Underworld: A Novel Approach to Utility Management in Smart and Sponge Cities, explored how using our city space differently can enhance quality of life and sustainability in all its forms even as we live in ever more densely populated cities.

 In ‘smart’ cities, advances in information, sensing and communication technology are used to manage key assets and utilities more effectively. ‘Sponge’ cities take this idea a stage further, redesigning the urban environment to capture, control and reuse virtually every drop of rainwater, which makes a compelling case of importance of Civil Engineers in making cities more environmentally sustainable and resilient.

As cities around the world continue to grow, their populations place ever greater demands on their water, sewers electricity and other utility systems. Far-sighted planning and the innovative approaches to utility management described in the award-winning research paper are needed to help cities meet these demands.

ICUMAS is a major conference held by the Hong Kong Institute of Utility Specialists (HKIUS) and International Institute of Utility Specialists (IIUS) to discuss the popular issues on utility management and safety.

Dr Makana’s research paper, co-authored by Dr Nicole Metje and Professor Chris Rogers, forms part of Birmingham’s Sustainable Cities research focus. In 2019 we will open a £27 million National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF). This ‘one of a kind’ facility will enable research to be carried out at full-scale or near full-scale under fully-controlled conditions.

Reflecting on winning an ICUMAS award, Dr Makana said:

“The best paper award is a brilliant demonstration of the continued recognition, usefulness and impact of the complex engineering science research undertaken at Birmingham under the leadership of Professor Chris Rogers and Dr Nicole Metje.”