Work begins on Manchester Urban Observatory

Oxford Road corridor.The Manchester Urban Observatory website is now live.

Work has started on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)/UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKRIC) Manchester Urban Observatory following a workshop in September 2018.

Urban observatories enable the gathering of robust data to better understand cities and their relationship with decision-making across a range of scales and sectors.

The Manchester Urban Observatory, a collaboration between the three Faculties at The University of Manchester, will focus on deploying air quality sensors within the Oxford Road Corridor, an existing infrastructure testbed and urban living lab.

An important element of the observatory's activities will involve researching and optimising sensor locations with key stakeholders. It will adopt the operating principles of an urban living lab that enable partners to co-produce research problems and associated projects to address them.

The chosen infrastructure will allow us to study environmental and human health factors from the street level with high temporal resolution [seconds] to regional trends over months and years.

This sectoral focus was chosen specifically as a result of mapping onto key strategic priorities of the University and gaps in existing UKRIC observatories on quantifying behavioural change to urban conditions.

A series of workshops hosted across the three Faculties at Manchester between June and October identified the following key areas for interdisciplinary research collaborations:

  • health and air quality
  • health mitigation
  • modelling exposure and response
  • pollen
  • active transport
  • citizen sensing
  • green infrastructure
  • living lab methodologies to capture co-benefits/upscale
  • urban health and wellbeing.

Our overarching research question involves asking how the Internet of Things can help address urban prosperity, health and wellbeing issues related to environmental and infrastructural factors.

The group will begin to purchase and install the equipment from April 2019.

The data hub, which is being designed to meet the needs of researchers and external users, is currently under production. It will take part in UKRIC events to engage with other urban observatory programmes.

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