The Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) is a research centre and national data service based at the University of Glasgow. We promote the use of big data and innovative research methods to improve social, economic and environmental well-being in cities.

UBDC has been jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the University of Glasgow since 2014.

What we do


World-leading urban research

We publish world-leading research in the social sciences and other disciplines that is distinguished by its critical engagement with debates about new forms of data (big data) and data-driven urban analytics. We are aware of the strengths and the limitations of these new approaches to understanding urban conditions when compared with traditional modes of research.


First-class data collection and data service

Our data service enhances the quality and accessibility of urban big data, and the methods for urban analytics, supporting a wide range of applications and users.


Demonstrable impact

Through our research and our data service, we deliver a wide range of positive impacts on society, the economy and the environment.


Develop partnerships

We work closely with a wide range of government, industry and third sector partners to ensure we understand the challenges they face and to identify opportunities for our work to influence policy and practice.


A centre for excellence for teaching and capacity building

We are producing the next generation of social researchers equipped with high-level skills and knowledge in data science alongside understandings of how cities work grounded in the social sciences.


How we use new forms of data to study cities


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Our multi-disciplinary team

We are a multi-disciplinary team that benefits from the contributions and insights from a group of experts with very varied backgrounds. We provide an environment that encourages collaboration and cross-fertilisation where all perspectives are valued.

Our urban social scientists and transport engineers ensure that we draw on existing knowledge and understanding of urban systems and contexts. They keep attention focussed on questions of data quality and validity, and make sure we understand how our work contributes to wider efforts across the range of disciplines addressing urban challenges.

Our data scientists and statisticians bring technical and analytical expertise. They innovate methods to access or capture, manage, analyse and visualise data. They also provide expertise in data licensing and negotiating rights to data which are critical determinants of what we can do.

We have a highly-skilled support team working on finance, communications, engagement and administrative activities.