David Alvarez

  • PhD Researcher (Newcastle)

I am a Survey Engineer with a Masters in Geodesy and Cartography. I have five years of industry experience with various companies, carrying out work related to surveying railway and electrical network environments in Spain, Ireland and the UK.

After a few years working in the industry, I offered the opportunity to undertake research in geospatial systems. This is a great opportunity to learn cutting edge technologies and new ways to understand the reality of using geodata, especially in topics such as smart cities, which is the area that I am interested in for my research.

I chose the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Geospatial Systems because it provides a great variety of courses and tools related to data management, data processing and data analysis, which develops the advanced skills and knowledge that will be beneficial when undertaking my research. The teaching staff and facilities provided at Newcastle University and University of Nottingham were also factors.

My long term career goals are related to city management. I would like to be involved in the management of cities transportation, air quality and/or other factors that can be measured and improved in order to get a better quality of life for the inhabitants.

PhD Research 

An Agent-Based Model to simulate bottom-up urban mobility policies, applying datasets from the smart city and considering human cognitive behaviours 

Climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge of our time [1] and according to the United Nations [2], urban areas are projected to house 68% of global population in 2050 (13% more than in 2018), which could worsen current climate change problems due to the production of more air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, in June 2019 the UK Parliament passed legislation on its Net Zero emissions 2050 target [3, 4, 5], which will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by that year, keeping the UK in line with the commitments made as part of the 2016 Paris Agreement to keep global warming under 2 Celsius degrees [5]. 

To achieve this goal, the UK will require a rapid and unprecedented action across the UK economy and wider society supported by technology innovation and robust policy frameworks [1]. 

In order to understand the feasibility of the Net Zero emissions 2050 target in the transportation sector, my PhD research project aims to simulate, in space and time, the urban mobility of Newcastle upon Tyne and to define urban mobility policy scenarios to reduce the number of journeys and to enable people to use active travel modes (walking and cycling), micro-mobility (e.g., e-bikes, e-scooters) and public transport instead of private vehicles. 

As DfT highlights in [6], “Analysis and research is needed to fill important evidence gaps in the evaluation of the impact of active travelling and accessible travelling policies. The evidence is needed to implement legislation and to better understand the types of projects and programmes which are efficient and value for money”. This PhD research project will contribute to this goal from a geospatial perspective. 


[1] Department for Transport, “Decarbonising Transport. Setting the Challenge,” 2020.

[2] WHO, “68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN,” 16 May 2018. (accessed Jun. 09, 2021). 

[3] GOV UK, “UK becomes first major economy to pass net zero emissions law,” 2019. (accessed Jun. 21, 2021). 

[4] Climate Change Committee (CCC), “Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming,” 2019. (accessed Jun. 21, 2021). 

[5] Institute for Governance, “UK net zero target,” 2020. (accessed Jun. 21, 2021). 

[6] Department for Transport, “Areas of Research Interest 2019. Research and Evidence,” 2019. (accessed Jun. 21, 2021).