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The University of Manchester welcomes you to the NERC Digital Solutions Hub newsletter!

In this issue, we explain what the Digital Solutions Hub (DSH) is and how it might help you access and analyse data going forward.

You can read an update on the DSH following our stakeholder engagement workshops.

We introduce you to Professor Richard Kingston, the Director of the Digital Solutions Programme, and we ask if you could be part of our Digital Solutions Hub team.

You can also support the DSH by referring a friend to our newsletter. We want to engage with as many data users as possible, so we can build a hub that really works for you!

You can find regular DSH updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 


What is the Digital Solutions Hub (DSH)?

The University of Manchester are leading on the Digital Solutions Hub, on behalf of UKRI’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The DSH will provide a gateway to more than 40 petabytes of NERC’s environmental datasets.
Social, economic, and health data will also be integrated into the system, to make analysis easier.
The DSH will help users to make informed decisions to address the policy challenges they face.

Learn more about the DSH

Professor Richard Kingston at the Birmingham stakeholder engagement workshop

Workshops wrap-up and results webinar

Thank you to everyone who attended one of our stakeholder engagement workshops. The feedback we received will help us to shape the Hub, as we go forward.

We visited 12 cities, across the 4 countries of the United Kingdom and spoke to nearly 200 users of environmental data.

Open Data Manchester, who helped run the workshops, are now analysing the insights you provided to help us map our ‘user personas’ and the features you want to see prioritised on the DSH.

Join us for a webinar on 24 April, to discover our findings from the workshops, by clicking on the link below.

Register for Workshop

Professor Richard Kingston


Meet Professor Richard Kingston, Director of the Digital Solutions Programme

As we progress with the DSH, we want you to get to know our team and our backgrounds. Today we are introducing you to our Director, Professor Richard Kingston.

Richard is a Professor of Urban Planning and GISC at The University of Manchester and previously worked in planning practice before joining academia.

He aims to enhance stakeholder involvement and participation in spatial decision making.

Richard’s research brings together: Public Participation GIS, Spatial Analysis and Data Science, and Smart Cities.

Learn more about Richard

Refer a Friend

We want to reach as many data-users as possible, so please forward this email to colleagues and friends asking them to sign up here, and they too can have early access to the Hub and hear about future events.

In this issue, we share what we’ve learned from our stakeholder engagement workshops.

You can also read our new article on how AI and data tools like the DSH can be used to influence evidence-based policy change.

And finally, learn about how environmental data can be used to create a Fire Danger Rating System for the UK.   

As always you can find DSH updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Mat from ODM presenting findings from user research report

What we’ve learnt – User Research Report

Here at the DSH it is important that we build a facility based on user-need and not their perceived use of technologies.

 That is why we worked with Open Data Manchester (ODM) to hold a series of workshops aimed at discovering how environmental data is used and the challenges faced.

ODM have been analysing the results and their full User Research Report will be available to share with you soon.

In the interim you can read some of the key findings below:

Highlights

• Around 100 cross-sector professionals provided feedback.
• 7 user archetypes were identified from the research.
• Considerable overlap in the journeys of different users allowed for the creation of an assimilated user journey.
• The ‘Get’, ‘Analyse’, and ‘Manage’ stages of the journey are where users have encountered the most challenges.
• Requirements for the DSH include, but are not limited to: having a sophisticated search function, allowing users to track the work done on datasets, and to influence best practice within the data ecosystem.

Learn more here

Mobile data and traffic/footfall patterns

Data and decision making: how AI and data tools can help influence evidence-based policy change

By Professor Dave Topping

• Leveraging data science could be the most effective way for policymakers to make evidence-based decisions in our ever-changing world.
• Available resource, time constraints, security and sustainability are all barriers to the use of data tools in decision making.
• The DSH is attempting to break down the barriers of data driven tools by considering these challenges in its development, so policymakers can access and use data for policy interventions.

Read the article.

Environmental data and policy making

The aim of the Digital Solutions Hub is to allow decision makers to maximise the benefit they get from their environmental data and enhance their abilities to make evidence-based policy interventions.

Over coming months we will be highlighting the types of data that could be available on the DSH and how this might be used to inform decision making.

In this issue, we are highlighting an article written by Dr Gareth Clay, a Reader in Physical Geography, at The University of Manchester. He is currently working on a project to establish and test the scientific underpinning and key components required to build an effective, tailored UK fire danger rating system. Data from this research will sit across NERC’s data centres.

Firefighter tackling wildfire

Spreading like wildfire: the need for a UK Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS)

By Dr Gareth Clay

• Fire danger is a combination of different factors, such as weather conditions and fuel type, which can affect the initiation, spread, and ease of controlling a wildfire.
• In England, between 2009/10 and 2020/21 there were around 30,000 vegetation fires each year.
• The Government and governmental agencies should collaborate with researchers to develop a new FDRS for the UK that takes into account fuels that are unique to the UK.

Read the article.

Refer a Friend

We want to reach as many data-users as possible, so please forward this email to colleagues and friends asking them to sign up here, and they too can have early access to the Hub and hear about future events.

In this issue, we share Open Data Manchester’s final User Research Report, which outlines what we learned from our stakeholder engagement workshops and the requirements the Digital Solutions Hub (DSH) needs to meet to help you, its users.

Read our new article by Professor Caroline Jay, Co-Investigator of the DSH, on how agile data platforms, can be used to inform clean air policy interventions and monitor their success.

Learn how you can help us shape the DSH, by taking part in our user research interviews, which will help us to ensure we are effectively addressing user needs.

And lastly, join us for an online event where we discuss the data that can be found on the DSH and how policymakers can use it to inform their decision making.

As always you can find DSH updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Mat from ODM presenting findings from user research report

New Report: User Research Report now live

• The success of the DSH programme relies on the tools, resources, and underlying data meeting the needs of a growing community of potential users.
• Workshops, run by Open Data Manchester (ODM), delved into processes, workflows, and workarounds that people employ when using environmental data and sought to understand the challenges and barriers they faced.
• Their research showed that users encountered the most challenges when trying to ‘Get’, ‘Analyse’ and ‘Manage’ data.
• Requirements for the DSH therefore include, but are not limited to: having a sophisticated search function, allowing users to track the work done on datasets, and to influence best practice within the data ecosystem.

Read the Full Report

a person suffering from hay fever, in an urban park

Determining the impact of poor air quality in cities on daily life: the value of using citizen sensors and agile platforms

By Professor Caroline Jay

• Pollution may be affecting the health of many people who are not visible to the health service as symptoms are not always clinically reported.
• 700 people, or ‘citizen sensors’, who suffer from allergies logged more than 36,000 symptom reports on the ‘Britain Breathing’ app in the 5 years from 2016 to 2020.
• Policymakers should make use of data from ‘citizen sensors’ and agile data platforms which merge a diverse range of environmental and health data, including symptom reports, to inform clean air policy interventions and monitor their success.

Read the article

an interview taking place.
User Research Interviews: can you help?

As you will have seen from the User Research Report findings, there are a number of requirements that data users would like the Digital Solutions Hub to meet.

To help us ensure we are capturing, addressing, and prioritising user needs effectively, we will be carrying out in depth interviews with users from a variety of key stakeholder organisations in the UK.

Interviews are set to take place in October and November 2023.

If you attended a workshop last winter, then please keep an eye out for an invite to interview.

Alternatively, if you were unable to attend the workshops but are interested in participating in upcoming interviews please email us at digital-solutions@manchester.ac.uk.

Online event: integrating environmental, socioeconomic and health data to address policy

Friday 29 September, 11am to 12pm

• The DSH Team are presenting at DataConnect23 a conference series facilitated by the government’s Central Digital and Data Office and Data Quality Hub.
• DataConnect23 brings together data experts from across central government, local government, devolved administrations, academia and
national institutes to highlight interesting data initiatives and discuss how better data management will enable improved efficiency and public services.
• Join Professor Richard Kingston and Dr Nourhan Heysham as they discuss the data that can be found on the DSH and how policymakers can use it to assist them in making evidence-based interventions, to address the policy challenges they face.

Attend DataConnect23

Refer a Friend

We want to reach as many data-users as possible, so please forward this email to colleagues and friends asking them to sign up here, and they too can have early access to the Hub and hear about future events.

In this issue, we invite you to join our webinar, in partnership with Open Data Manchester, where we will discuss our user research outcomes and highlight user case examples.

Help us shape the Digital Solutions Hub, by taking part in our user research interviews, which will enable us to effectively address user needs.

Learn about the role of urban planning in the integration of Artificial Intelligence into transport in a new article by Dr Ransford A. Acheampong.

And finally, if you missed our appearance at DataConnect23 why not visit our website to access our slide deck.

As always you can find DSH updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Details about the DSH webinar in November

 

Webinar: User research and integrating data to address policy challenges

Monday 20th November, 10am to Midday, on Teams.

The success of the Digital Solutions Hub relies on the tools, resources, and underlying data meeting the needs of a growing community of potential users.

Join us for a webinar in partnership with Open Data Manchester, where we will discuss the outcomes of our user engagement workshops and how this feeds in to the Development of our Hub.

We also provide user case examples on how the DSH can support policymakers in making evidence-based policy interventions.

Register for the webinar.

an interview taking place.

Will you give us feedback?

100 people attended our user research workshops last year and this helped us to identify 400 requirements that users would like the Digital Solutions Hub to meet.

To ensure that we are building a Hub that works for you, we will be carrying out in-depth interviews with users to help us prioritise these requirements effectively.

Interviews will be visually interactive and will consider the functionalities and features of the DSH in detail.

If you have attended one of our workshops, events, or are new to the DSH and work with environmental data then we are keen to hear from you.

The interview process will be open until mid December.

Confirm your attendance for an interview by emailing digital-solutions@manchester.ac.uk.

 

An bus being driven by AI.

Article: Artificial Intelligence and future transport and mobility: What do cities want and how can urban planning respond?

By Dr Ransford A. Acheampong

  • As automated driving technologies are introduced gradually into cities, urban planning has a critical role to play in anticipating the implications of this transition and mediating unwanted consequences for societies.
  • Policymakers must recognise and provide opportunities for diverse viewpoints in envisioning and creating desired mobility futures. Crucially – uncertainty cannot lead to inaction.
  • Transport and mobility policies and plans must address local needs and strategic imperatives such as meeting Net Zero targets. Engagement and constructive dialogue are key.

Read the article.

 

This is the first slide of the presentation delivered at DataConnect23

The DataConnect23 Conference Series

On 29th September, more than 120 people from across the public sector logged on to watch Professor Richard Kingston’s Webinar on leveraging data science to support policymakers make evidence-based decisions, as part of the DataConnect23 conference series.

Professor Richard Kingston, Director of the Digital Solutions Hub, outlined the challenges that users of environmental data face and how the DSH might help to overcome them.

He explained how the DSH would allow users to run computationally intensive analysis such as ‘what if modelling’ alongside the building of data visualisations, which could then be used to tell a story about the need for policy change.

If you missed our presentation and would like to find out more, you can access our slides using the button below.

Access our DataConnect23 slides.


Refer a Friend

We want to reach as many data-users as possible, so please forward this email to colleagues and friends asking them to sign up here, and they too can have early access to the Hub and hear about future events.

Sign up to the newsletter.