Sensing Newcastle

Cities are complex.  Interactions occur across multiple scales from the molecular to the regional.  The Urban Observatory is the first step in trying to understand these interactions through measuring the city at many scales.  Measuring physical phenomena like temperature and wind speed, recording traffic movement, understanding how people move about the city, measuring air quality, measuring flows in our electric sysytems and water pipes.

The Urban Observatory is a network of sensors, operating across the city that provides real-time informaton about the city.  It acts as a repository for data and we not only collect our own data but integrate data from other platforms.   Secure storage is augmented with interfaces to view the data in real-time.  Soon we will provide a data API for developers and others to consume data in apps and websites.  The starting point of all of this is that data is OPEN and ACCESSIBLE.  The UO is also a platform for urban research and supports research activity across the city through targeted sensor field campaigns, equipment investment and technical support in using and acquiring data.  


Twitter data is used in the Urban Observatory to create realistic people flows for modelling people movement around the city and region.  This allows us to model potential impacts of infrastucture failure.  Modelling enables us to explore future what-if scenarios using accurate data but it is just important to be able to convey the results of our models to stakeholders and decision makers.  You can see our Derby Day Movement Visualisation here and another example showing the effects of Infrastucture failure here.

‌We also use modern browser technology to view data in new ways.  An example here plots metro usage in 3D.  Most modern browsers can display this without the need for plugins.  Check out our Metro 3D map here.