The Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) celebrates its 10th anniversary on 29 January 2024.
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the University of Glasgow, UBDC is a dynamic research hub and national data service, championing the use of smart data to inform policymaking and enhance the quality of urban life.
Working closely with partners from government, industry and the third sector, UBDC publishes world-leading research with demonstrable impact on public policy, industry, and quality of life. Attracting students from around the world, the Centre delivers Masters degrees in Urban Analytics and in Urban Transport and runs a rich calendar of capacity building and knowledge exchange events.
Since 2014, UBDC’s data service has provided free access to data and related services to over 2,000 researchers at more than 800 institutions in the UK and internationally.
UBDC’s strategic data partnerships include property and employment search engine giants, Zoopla and Adzuna, and mobile phone location data platform, Huq. Open data collections include public transport accessibility indices for the whole of Great Britain. Professor Nick Bailey, Director of UBDC, said: “We’re delighted to mark UBDC’s 10th anniversary this year. This significant milestone gives a chance for us to celebrate past achievements and re-focus on future goals. It’s also an opportunity to renew our relationships with our many partners and stakeholders, and to thank them for their on-going support.”
Joe Cuddeford, Director of Smart Data Research UK at UKRI, said: “For ten years the team at the Urban Big Data Centre has championed safe access to smart data, forging crucial partnerships in government, academia and the private sector. These collaborations, as well as their expertise and commitment to capacity building, have fuelled pioneering research about urban life. UBDC has proved the research value of emerging data sources, paving the way for the next phase of UKRI investment in this field."
UBDC’s impact is local, national and international. UBDC has enjoyed a very successful collaboration with Glasgow City Council over many years. Together they have developed a unique system to produce counts of pedestrians, cyclists and traffic movement using the city’s public safety CCTV. The data informs the Council’s economic development strategies and public realm investments.
In summer 2023, UBDC worked with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism to highlight the growing issue of overheating in homes due to climate change. Using novel sensor technology, the data demonstrated that recommended indoor temperatures were regularly being exceeded in London housing.
In a partnership with location research company, Huq, UBDC has been developing novel measures of population mobility across the UK’s towns and cities using data from the movement of mobile phones. These measures are now being used to inform local transport strategies.
And in November 2023, the ‘Waterproofing Data’ project, led by UBDC’s Deputy Director, Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, won the prestigious ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize. The project combines citizen-generated data with official sources to increase community resilience in flood-prone areas of Brazil’s cities.