Department of Computing, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ

Contact Information

Call: Phone +44 (0) 20 7594 8375, Research Admin: Teresa Ng, +44 (0) 20 7594 8300


Prof. Julie A. McCann

Imperial College London


Spatial computing systems  blur boundaries between their digital components and their environments, they collaborate, swarm/school, and soon will be able to conjoin, to serve a purpose. This kind of compute requires different thinking, they are ephemeral, as behaviours and roles in the collective change and adapt. Described initially as smart dust, yet implemented as dumber (more useful?) sensor-networks/CPS/IoT, such systems require new conversations regarding scale, robustness under failure, service while minimising resource consumption, new methods of obtaining resources (becoming energy neutral or decomposable). We look at behaviours, convergence, or purposeful lack of convergence, anarchical systems, systems that understand and are adaptive to contexts. To do this McCann draws upon models of non-computing systems (e.g. social behaviours, economics, biology, physics etc.) to inform the collective systems’ configuration and optimisation processes.

McCann’s body of practical work unifies decentralised algorithms, protocols, cross-layer, dynamical solutions, with a particular focus on low-powered, low-resourced devices that can act as modern wireless sensor-based systems or future smart dust. She applies this to Space, Agri and Infrastructure Engineering challenges (encompassing the Internet of Things and Cyber-physical systems). Her interests lie in harnessing the various interactions between the cyber and physical to improve performance, resilience and to make secure.

McCann heads up Adaptive Emergent Systems Engineering (AESE) in the Dept of Computing where she works with a highly multi-disciplinary group of Post Docs and PhD students from a broad spectra of backgrounds. She leads the Resilient and Robust Infrastructure challenge part of the Data Centric Engineering theme in the Alan Turing Institute, she is PI for the  NRF funded Singapore Eco Cities initiative, and is Deputy Director of PeTraS and therein leads the Logistics 4.0 project with the Tate Modern, ARM and Ordinance Survey. She is Imperial PI for the EPSRC Science of Sensing Systems Software (S4) programme grant.  Until recently she was the Co-director of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute on Sustainable Connected Cities, the Co-PI of the NEC Smart Water Lab, and Director of the cross-Imperial Smart Connected Futures Network.

She has chaired and remains actively involved with the field’s top conferences (including Infocom, Sensys, IPSN, and EWSN) and is an Associated Editor for IoT-J. She currently delivers the Pervasive Computing teaching module and in the past she lectured Operating Systems courses.  She was chair of the Department of Computing Equality and Diversity committee (2018-2021), is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Chartered Engineer and consults on computer-based futures for TV and Film .