Manchester Urban Observatory

Manchester Urban Observatory

The Manchester Urban Observatory draws on expertise from across the University of Manchester's three faculties. Of strategic significance to the Urban Observatory are the Manchester Urban Institute (MUI) and the Manchester Environmental Research Institute (MERI), which have been established as interdisciplinary hubs bringing together academic and non-academic expertise from all over the world.

The Manchester Urban Observatory deploys a range of monitoring technology to gather data that can be used to study the sources and concentration of various air pollution indices and the subsequent impact this has on human health. It will also test the effectiveness of various mitigation strategies.

The observatory collaborates on research and innovation projects that will provide a unique environment in which to conduct experimental work with urban sensors – a large proportion of which will focus on air quality sensing. These mobile sensors will be deployed in a range of locations across Manchester, partner observatories and further afield, as important scientific questions and research opportunities present themselves.

The sensors measure a broad array of environmental, transport, mobility and energy consumption factors with a fundamental aim of helping to address urban prosperity, health and wellbeing issues related to environmental and infrastructural factors. Data analysts and software developers can then access a uniquely designed data hub, allowing partners to build applications that explore, analyse and/or visualise the data.

For the air quality work, an important element of the observatory activities will involve researching and optimising sensor locations with key stakeholders. The sensors are designed to be safely and easily installed in different locations, which allows multiple and broad questions to be answered as a result of the investment and support offered by the Urban Observatory team.

The chosen infrastructure will allow researchers to study environmental and human health factors from the street level, second-to-second, but also regional trends over months and years. This enables 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 has been up and running since September 2019.

Photo credit: William McCue via Unsplash

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Contact the Observatory muo@manchester.ac.uk