news | 26.11.2021 |

Urban Big Data Centre’s data service awarded new funding from ESRC

The Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) is delighted to announce that it has been successful in two recent funding bids, securing awards of £4m from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.

The awards will enable the continued development of our data service activities, supporting researchers across the UK and internationally to make greater use of ‘digital footprint’ (DF) data. These include data from sensors such as mobile phones, from business or administrative systems such as those for house sales or job adverts, and from user-generated content like social media or fitness apps. With funding through to September 2024, UBDC will also work to support and develop thriving interdisciplinary communities of researchers working with its DF data collections.

The awards permit a range of extensions and enhancements to existing data collections. These provide unique resources for the analysis of fields such as urban mobility, housing, and labour markets. We will continue our work to add value to these data by enhancing data quality and integration and improving access through dashboard interfaces.

The funding also supports the development of new areas of activity. For example, we will be exploring how DF data can be used to support localised tracking of progress on sustainable development agendas and climate action plans. In partnership with the Urban Flows Observatory at the University of Sheffield, we will develop means to monitor the environmental performance of the urban housing stock using a range of sensing tools.

UBDC Director, Professor Nick Bailey, commented:

“The data we all create through our daily activities – our ‘digital footprints’ – will play an increasingly important role in social scientific research in the future. UBDC has supported more than 1200 researchers to take advantage of these data to date, producing insights that have benefitted a wide range of stakeholders in the public, private and third sectors. We are delighted that these awards recognize our successes and enable us to develop our services still further.”

Deputy Director, Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, noted:

“Cities are facing big challenges to ensure sustainable and healthy urban environments for all citizens, which include addressing urban inequalities, as well as mitigating and adapting to climate change. I’m excited that the new funding from ESRC will allow UBDC to support these urgent urban agendas by enabling researchers and stakeholders to fully realise the potential of digital footprint data.”

Professor Sara Carter, Vice-Principal of the University of Glasgow and Head of the College of Social Sciences, commented:

“We are delighted to see UBDC’s continued growth in its data service activities. Cities are facing major challenges and social scientists are vital in making sense of complex data around social, economic, and physical statistics. The UBDC is a great example of the outstanding work in data science conducted at this University.”

The awards were provided via ESRC through UK Research and Innovation’s World Class Labs budget to support extensions, expansions, and upgrades to existing social science data infrastructure.


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