Call for PhD in Smart Sustainable Cities assessment framework is now open. Applications open until 14 April 2017

Eligibility Criteria

We target international and national holders of a Masters degree (or equivalent) related to GI. The field of Geoinformatics is interdisciplinary, so previous studies can be in GI or any GI application area, such as geography, ecology, transportation, forestry, energy provision, computer science, geology, etc., which is relevant for the research topic Sustainable Smart Cities assessment framework (see below).

Typically, the diploma/certificate confirming the completion of the Masters degree has to be submitted with the application documents. In exceptional cases, applicants can provide a transcript of records of the Masters program with courses attended so far. In that case he/she will provide the final diploma/certificate at the selection/interview phase. In case you don’t have your diploma by then but you are going to get it very soon, contact the supervisor to talk about your case.

Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) (= doctoral researchers) may be of any nationality.

ESRs shall at the time of recruitment by the host organization, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.

At the time of the relevant deadline for recruitment by the host organization (UNL), researchers shall not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organization for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date (April 14, 2017). Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.


Scholarship conditions

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: This position will be fully funded by a GEO-C scholarship until December 2018. The remaining  months will be funded according to Portuguese Foundation of Science and Technology rules for PhD students,, 980 euros per month and no allowances). The following conditions apply ONLY to the GEO-C scholarship until December 2018.

The scholarships for ESRs (doctoral researchers) will be granted in terms of employment contracts according to the national regulations of the hosting institutions. All work contracts will be issued for 1 year, to be extended for a second and then for a third year based on successful completion of the requested achievements as pointed out in the Qualification Concept.

The scholarships consist of the following:

  1. Monthly living allowance

This refers to the basic, gross amount for the benefit of the researcher to be paid to the researcher in monthly instalments. For Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Actions calls launched in 2014-2015, the amount for an ESR is €3,110 / month.

This amount is then adjusted through the application of a correction coefficient for the cost of living according to the country in which the researcher will work (and will not change in case of secondments to another beneficiary or partner organisation. The country correction coefficients that will be applied are: PT 89,1%; ES 97,6%, DE 98,8%.

In all cases, the hosts must ensure that the researcher is covered under the social security scheme which is applied to employed workers within the country of the contractor, or under a social security scheme providing at least sickness and maternity benefits in kind, invalidity and accidents at work and occupational diseases, and covering the researcher in every place of implementation of the ITN activities.

Important notice: Living allowance

NOTE: The living allowance is a gross EU contribution to the salary costs of the researcher. Consequently, the net salary results from deducting all compulsory (employer/employee) social security contributions as well as direct taxes (e.g. income tax) from the gross amounts. The rate indicated above is for researchers devoting themselves to their project on a full-time basis.

  1. Mobility allowance

In addition to the living allowance, a mobility allowance of €600 / month will be paid to recruited early-stage researchers. This allowance will be taxable depending on the country in question.

  1. Family allowance

A family allowance of €500 / month will be paid taking due account of the researcher’s family situation. In this context, family is defined as persons linked to the researcher by (i) marriage, or (ii) a relationship with equivalent status to a marriage recognised by the national legislation of the country of the host beneficiary or of the nationality of the researcher; or (iii) dependent children who are actually being maintained by the researcher.

The family status of a researcher will be determined at the time of their (first) recruitment in the project and will not evolve during the project lifetime.

NOTE: The mobility and family allowances are fixed amounts, regardless of the country of recruitment, and will be taxable depending on the country in question.


Research Topic: Sustainable Smart Cities assessment framework

Project Title and Work Package(s) to which it is related:

Sustainable Smart Cities assessment framework (WP4), supervised by Pedro Cabral (NOVA IMS), 1st co-supervisor external semester: Sven Casteleyn (UJI), 2nd co-supervisor: Edzer Pebesma (WWU).


More than 65% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050. This is a considerable challenge regarding management of aspects, such as air pollution, traffic congestion, waste management and health. The objectives set by the EU Climate Action to manage these aspects for the near future are rather ambitious. Thus, there is the need of developing smart solutions to overcome these challenges through the use of intelligent technologies. Often smart cities share the same goals as sustainable cities as these concepts are interconnected. Despite there are many definitions for smart cities not all of them are aligned with sustainability targets. Thus, there is a need for clarifying these concepts. Additionally, tools are required to help decision makers to assess cities’ progress in pursuing these objectives. This can be carried out through frameworks which assess urban performance. Regarding the existing ones, some are more dedicated to urban sustainability (environmental, economic and social dimensions), and others are more dedicated to smart cities technology. However, a framework that combines both aspects is still missing. This PhD research will:

  • Assess how cities can play an important role in climate change mitigation and how the use of intelligent technologies can decrease GHG emissions and improve energy efficiency;
  • Assess the impact of these technologies on environmental sustainability and on human well-being;
  • Develop indicators to assess both sustainable and smart cities concepts using assessment frameworks;
  • Develop a framework to assess urban performance which considers sustainable smart cities;
  • Carry out empirical analysis on which indicators cities use to measure sustainable smart city performance;
  • Measure correlation between smart and sustainability performance;
  • Develop a visualization tool to share and explore the framework as part of the OCT.

Expected Results:

Approaches and tools to assess sustainable and smart cities; development of an assessment framework for sustainable smart cities; case studies; integrate results in the Geo-C open city toolkit; Develop an European smart sustainable city ranking; Monitoring smart sustainable cities; Develop a geovisualization tool to share and explore the framework as part of the OCT; other deliverables according to the text above.

Planned secondment(s):

Internship: Lisbon Municipality, between M10 and M18, 1 month; purpose: familiarise with city data and indicators.

External semester:

UJI, between M19 and M30, 6 months, work with Prof. Sven Casteleyn to develop framework visualization tool.

Achievement items:

Dissertation proposal defence, summer school, internship, assessment framework, development of visualization tool, academic publishing

PhD enrolment: Yes

Start date: As soon as possible after selection

Duration: 36 months



The application deadline is on April 14, 2017. All applications have to be submitted online via the online application system (see link below). In case of an invitation to the selection/interview phase, ALL documents have to be provided in paper version (originals or certified copies).

Start Online Application:

The applicants have to provide the following application documents to be uploaded as pdf to their application:

  • A written statement of both general interest in the programme and particular interest in research position (maximum 2000 characters).
  • A short dissertation proposal (2 pages of less) to the targeted research topic (see below)
  • A European format CV (see template), including social and multi-cultural competencies.
  • Degree certificates (Bachelor, Master, or other), including certified transcripts of grades – to be provided as a certified copy.
  • Certificate of English language proficiency (TOEFL 550 paper-based or equivalent) – to be provided as a certified copy or original version (For sending TOEFL test results through ETS, please use the following TOEFL code number: Instituto Superior De Estatistica e Gestão de Informação-UNL: 6601).
  • Publications (where applicable).
  • Other relevant qualifications (where applicable) – to be provided as certified copies.
  • Two letters of recommendation from previous supervisors or other faculty members – to be provided as original versions.
  • Proof of nationality– to be provided as certified copy – including portrait photo – to be provided as an original.

Before submitting your application, please carefully consider the following questions:

  • Have you specifically addressed the pre-defined PhD research topic (see below)?
  • Does your dissertation proposal clearly emphasise a problem statement, research questions or challenges, and ideas for methods?
  • Is your statement of interest specific to this doctorate programme and to your potential advisor?



Based on the documents, a selection committee will invite the best applicants to a 15 to 20 minutes interview, by video conference or Skype (April 20, 2017). Selection criteria will be assessed according to the following scheme:

  •  Master or equivalent degree, grade (30 %)
  •  Master or equivalent degree, relevance of topic (10 %)
  •  Quality and relevance of dissertation proposal (30 %)
  •  English language skills (go/no-go criterion)
  •  Past academic experience and achievements (10 %)
  •  Motivation for the program (10 %)
  •  Formal aspects of application (10 %)


Dates and deadlines

Application deadline

April 14, 2017

Pre-evaluation of applications

April 15, 2017

Skype interviews with pre-selected candidates

April 20, 2017

Notification of selected candidates

April 21, 2017

Start of the PhD

As soon as possible after acceptance

PhD thesis submission

August 31, 2020