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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P001947/1
Title: York City Environment Observatory: Diagnostic Phase
Principal Investigator: Boxall, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Bricker, Miss S Hughes, Dr AG Reed, Dr DJ
Bloor, Professor KE Rees Jones, Professor SR Murphy, Dr DT
Cinderby, Dr S Martin, Dr D Ford, Mr J R
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Arup (Ove Arup and Partners Ltd) (UK) Centre for Sustainable Healthcare City of York Council
Digital Catapult Environment Agency (Grouped) Forest Research
IBM Local Trust Natural England
PerkinElmer, Inc. (International) Public Health England Science City York
SimOmics The Rivers Trust The Woodland Trust
York Metrics York Minster
Department: Environment
Organisation: University of York
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 June 2016 Ends: 31 March 2018 Value (£): 397,354
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Urban & Land Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Energy
Environment Creative Industries
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Mar 2016 Urban Living Interview Announced
24 Feb 2016 Urban Living Meeting Sift Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
By the middle of this century, two thirds of the world's population will be urban - equivalent to around 6.3 billion people. Mismanagement of these urban areas will adversely affect the health and well-being (i.e. how people experience their lives and flourish) of the population, and lead to social and environmental injustice. It has long been recognised that good quality cultural, social, built and natural environments within cities provide benefits in terms of health, well-being and equity of urban residents. Conversely, poor quality environments negatively affect the health and well-being of citizens and have negative economic consequences. With increasing urbanisation and changes in climate, the built, cultural, social and natural environments within cities will come under further pressure.

While the relationships between selected environment quality parameters, such as noise and air pollution and health, have been well characterised, relatively little is known about the relationship between other quality measures, or endpoints, of economic and societal well-being and health. A major reason for this limited understanding is that while much data on city environments exist, this is fragmented across numerous data owners, is not joined up or at suitable granularity. As these existing datasets have been collected for other reasons, they are not always in a form where they are useful for a wide variety of purposes or for future needs. Data on some important parameters simply does not yet exist. Additionally, specialists in the different disciplines needed to tackle these complex issues often work in isolation. By bringing data together, breaking down barriers across research disciplines and exploiting and developing new monitoring, modelling and analytical technologies (e.g. wireless sensing networks, wearable devices, drones, crowdsourcing, 3D models of cities and virtual reality), it should be possible to provide a holistic analysis of the quality of the environment with a city that can be used by many different stakeholders (e.g. researchers, policy makers, planners, businesses and the public) to address their needs. This holistic analysis will then provide us with a better understanding of how to manage city environments and will provide long-term benefits to citizens and the economy.

The York City Environment Observatory (YCEO) initiative will address this major knowledge gap by providing a framework, tools and conceptual models at the urban scale that can be rolled-out to assist with governance of environments in York and other cities in the UK and around the world. In this diagnostic phase project, experts from a diverse range of sectors and disciplines, will work together in a holistic way to design and lay the groundwork for establishing the YCEO. The consortium will work with a range of stakeholders and look to the past, present and future in trying to diagnose and predict environmental issues for York and their associated human health and well-being and economic impacts. We will build on York's strong track record in open data and combine data and models in order to do this. This diagnostic project will allow us to develop a prototype design for the YCEO, to be implemented within the next five years and a roadmap for achieving this. The YCEO will be designed to provide the evidence-base for making decisions on how best to manage and enhance the social, cultural, built and natural environment across city systems now and into the future, and in this way, improve the health, well-being and equity of citizens and the economy of the city. The YCEO will also aid local, national and international stakeholders (including planners, businesses, residents and community groups) to come up with low cost and innovative solutions to a range of problems identified as part of this diagnostic phase of the Urban Living Partnership.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.york.ac.uk