Newcastle University’s £50 million ‘living lab’ project to develop the future Smart City

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Newcastle University announced in December 2013 an ambitious £50 million project to create a ‘living lab’ for trialling new technologies and systems in the endeavour to develop the smart city of the future.

Based on Science Central in the heart of Newcastle, the project will change the face of Newcastle city centre where all elements ranging from traffic through energy to buildings will work together to improve the user experience while reducing the carbon footprint. Putting users at its heart, the project will combine digital ingenuity and scientific expertise with social innovation.

Working alongside policy makers, businesses and public organisations, the university’s plans will put ‘the first science on Science Central’ – the hub for digitally enabled urban sustainability research. Among the plans is an Urban Observatory for monitoring the urban environment, pulling together different data (e.g. traffic flow, air quality, extreme weather) required for real-time decision making.

‘Over the next four years, we hope to see Science Central grow to become an exemplar of urban sustainability research,’ says Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor Newcastle University, ‘bringing together academia, organisations, industry, democracy and communities to develop solutions that will make a difference to people’s lives across the globe.’

Professor Philip Taylor, who is leading the Newcastle University part of the Science Central project, views the project as taking a dynamic and ambitious city like Newcastle and using it as ‘a test bed to create a world-leading example of urban sustainability that others can follow.’

Fiona Standfield, Director of Newcastle Science City, responsible for the delivery of Science Central, emphasises that the project also reflects ‘the ambitions of the North East to play a vital role in the delivery of globally important R&D projects.’

Another project linked to this is the £2 million Cloud Computing Centre for integration and analysis of big data sets.  According to Professor Paul Watson, Director of Newcastle University’s Digital Institute, a big challenge of a ‘smart city’ is how to analyse data in such a way that it becomes meaningful and useful.

Although the £50 million research facility will be complete and functioning by 2017, some of its research projects have already started. These include:

  • £3.5 million i-BUILD Centre, led by Professor Richard Dawson, set up to understand interactions between energy, water, transport, waste and digital technology systems
  • £2 million grid–scale energy storage test bed, led by Professor Philip Taylor, to pave the way for the future of Smart Grids and energy storage across the UK
  • £1.3 million MyPLACE project, led by Professor Peter Wright, to develop and test a digital platform and toolkit for the public to engage with local councils and other organisations more effectively in the research, planning and design of the urban environment

The University’s presence on Science Central is part of its commitment to the Science City partnership with Newcastle City Council.

Image from Newcastle Science Central website (



£50 million ‘living lab’ takes smart cities to the next level (news post on Newcastle University website)

£50 million investment brings first science to Science Central

Science Central: Newcastle University invests £50m

£50 million investment for Science Central development

Newcastle University unveil £50m investment into Science Central

Newcastle Science Central website

Newcastle Science City website | Twitter: NCL Science City @NCLScience

Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability | Twitter: Sustainability@NCL @NCLSustainable; Professor Philip Taylor (Director) @rolyatlihp

Digital Institute at Newcastle University | Twitter: Digital Institute @digitalinst

Newcastle City Council

i-BUILD Centre

Grid–scale energy storage test bed


Related posts on The Sustainable University News & Info website

UCL symposium focuses on Sustainable Resources for Sustainable Cities

NEW BOOK: Imagining the Future City: London 2062

UEL Sustainable City seminar on Challenges and Opportunities in East London


A related post on The Sustainable University Notes blog:

Higher Education’s role in building a sustainable world


The suite of Sustainable University websites: Sustainable University One-stop Shop | News and Information | Research | Good Practice | Quotes | Blog | Diary | Micro-blog (@sustainableuni1 on Twitter)

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