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Intelligent communities and their technology and logistics

Discover the economic, social and environmental challenges and impacts of smart communities, their technologies and logistics on societies.

Background and issues

The society of the future poses a major challenge that inspires professors from every field to join forces and share their visions and discoveries. Intelligent communities demand multidimensional approaches to research and innovation projects that address multiple issues in technology, art, architecture, education, governance, citizens’ rights, safety for seniors, food production, transport of people and goods, logistics, societal organization, and communications.

Intelligent communities represent a new kind of development designed to meet the economic, social, and environmental needs of institutions, businesses, and citizens. Investing wisely in skills and infrastructure fosters sustainable development and a high quality of life and promotes participatory governance. Development along these lines is an emerging global trend widely considered to be the way of the future.

Strategic priorities

  • Explore social, cultural, economic challenges of digital technology
  • Understand social issues in communication
  • Produce the new generation of innovative materials
  • Accelerate the technological revolution, especially in the field of smart systems
  • Make significant breakthroughs in data processing, management, and analysis
  • Make major advances in modeling and simulation
  • Develop the smart machines and systems of tomorrow

Expertise at Université Laval

Developing intelligent communities means harnessing the power of fast-changing technologies. Top-flight UL researchers are working on innovative materials such as biomaterials, nanoparticles, low carbon footprint materials, cellulose-based composites, and materials and processes for the aeronautical and ground transportation industries. Outstanding work is being done in areas like electroactive and photoactive polymers. The university is also an international leader in optics and photonics, home to a Canada Excellence Chair and a critical mass of highly productive research professors. Optics-photonics has applications in communications (digital communities and electronic media), healthcare (medical imaging and neurophotonics), and astronomy (research into exoplanets), as well as the environment and agriculture.

UL professors are also doing outstanding work to develop innovative instrumentation and robotics used in industrial (non-destructive testing, hydraulic equipment) and astrophysics applications. Other research teams are hard at work developing next-generation IT through their work in organic computing. 


Université Laval is also home to specialists in areas important to intelligent communities, including processing, managing, and analyzing big data; developing mathematical, analytical, and computing tools; and modelling and simulation. All these fields are critical to understanding complex systems and realities such as climate and demographic change, and essential for artificial intelligence, artificial vision, and augmented reality. Université Laval brings together leaders in these technical fields and in urban studies.

The university is also well positioned to meet the social challenges of digital technology in spheres such as the arts, health care, and education. Research teams are striving to promote better integration of information and communication technologies in schools, while others study the legal implications and application challenges of digital trust. 

With 525 professors working with teams in 10 faculties, Université Laval will maintain its status as a leading player in building the society of tomorrow.
The Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers (COPL) shows what’s possible when Université Laval’s vision and strategy are applied to the technological and logistical challenges of intelligent communities.

COPL is a recognized Canadian leader in optics and photonics research and a key reason behind the Québec City area’s high concentration of enterprises in this important field. COPL research showcases UL professors’ impressive ability to work together with experts from all different fields and backgrounds to advance our understanding of light-related phenomena and develop a growing number of applications. For example, COPL researchers are working with biologists and microbiologists to understand the basic mechanisms that determine the spatio-angular self-organization of biological molecules, advancing our understanding of phenomena that can improve liquid crystal alignment control techniques. One application being developed with health researchers on the basis of their discoveries is non-destructive testing for studying inaccessible organs like the brain or gut microbiota; another is miniature lenses. These new insights into the organization of biological structures are also being applied to develop new types of optical fibres that will enhance telecommunications. COPL is a model of how combined skillsets and industry partnerships can be used to develop new technologies and materials that will shape the communities of tomorrow.


  • Accelerate knowledge transfer to users
  • Consolidate a critical mass of teaching faculty
  • Diversify funding sources
  • Increase international partnerships