Lab talk: Phil James

Phil James from the Urban Observatory came to Open Lab to talk about his work:

“A superficial reading of the press and the greater internet would suggest that the era of Smart Cities is already here,” Phil explained.

“All we need to realise this is finance and the political will. In reality, whilst many cities declare they are “Smart” the smartness resides in small pilot projects, or marketing hype.

“Here in Newcastle our approach is to develop a city test bed at the scale of the city to attempt to push the limits of sensor technology and understand their applications, develop holistic systems with multiple sensor types and data streams and learn how different types of monitoring data from physical observations to people’s impressions and ideas can be integrated to develop an Urban Observatory.

“The Urban Observatory programme is developing platform agnostic monitoring systems sampling many environmental and human factors across multiple spatial and temporal scales and addressing the socio-technical problems associated with large scale monitoring.

“The Urban Observatory provides a platform for research and it’s open data ethos means that anybody can access and use this data.

“We are currently working with a number of groups and researchers looking at well-being, community noise mapping, air quality interactions, data visualisation, integrated monitoring and real-time modelling, computer architectures for edge and cloud processing in sensor systems. We have a rolling programme of sensor deployments over the next 4 years focussed on research-driven monitoring. We currently received over 1,000,000 observations a day from over 300 sensors.”


Author: Mark Sleightholm

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