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Cities have long been producers and consumers of ‘big data’ whether it be about its population, economy, transport networks, flows of people along with the impacts of climate change on the built and natural environment. Citizens create much of this data, carrying out everyday transactions, mostly without their knowledge or informed consent. Big data can be derived from a variety of data stores: social media, consumer sites, search engines, smart phone apps, smart utility meters, credit card transactions, CCTV, etc. and whilst big data offers many as-yet-unexploited opportunities for smart cities, the risks to individual privacy and freedom also be taken seriously. 

Cities can benefit hugely from all of this data if they have the methods, tools and techniques to properly interrogate, analyse and interpret this data in meaningful ways. Manchester’s Data Science Institute are at the forefront of developing such methods through our urban data science theme to support cities in fully utilising the new opportunities that exist within data science to support cities and urban areas in understanding this emerging area.

Manchester Urban Institute

The mission of the Manchester Urban Institute is to serve as a leading academic urban institute that generates world-class research, achieves high levels of engagement and impact with non-academic stakeholders and trains the next generation of urban activists, decision-makers, researchers and scholars. By bringing together work from across the arts and humanities, the social sciences, business and health they are committed to an increased understanding of the global urban condition – past, present and future – and to studying and changing the world through engaging with a range of global, national and local stakeholders.  The Urban Institute positions the University of Manchester as the leading global location for urban research, with a combined focus on both the global north and global south.

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