Urban Big Data Centre


The Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) in the University of Glasgow is a unique UK ESRC-funded research centre to address social, economic and environmental challenges facing cities. UBDC brings interdisciplinary expertise of urban social scientists and data scientists from University of Glasgow and five partner universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Reading, Bristol and Illinois-Chicago to seek solutions in addressing such challenges.

UBDC advocates transformative theoretical understanding and knowledge discovery regarding dynamic resource management, social justice, lifelong learning and urban engagement in cities through the effective and responsible use of heterogeneous urban data by academics, public and private sector analysts and citizen-scientists.

The work of the UBDC focuses on methods and technologies to manage, link and analyse massive amounts of multi-sectoral urban Big Data, and to demonstrate the use of such information through innovations in urban and regional modelling, and other computational, statistical, data science, and complex systems approaches. We also provide data services and data products to external stakeholders.

UBDC supports strategies for urban planning and policy-making, business innovations, behavioural interventions for sustainable and engaged urban living, and advocacy and citizen participation relating to a wide spectrum of urban sectors such as economic development, transport, housing, education, environment and other areas.

The team consists of a core staff of 6 administrators, 45 academic researchers and a full-time staff of 5 IT and scientific computing officers. 


Within the centre, there will be a number of Urban Research Projects. One of the these is entitled: Neighbourhoods, housing and educational opportunity  – residential location and educational opportunity and will be led by Mike Osborne and Keith Kintrea. Below is a summary of its focus.

Unequal educational outcomes are a key policy concern, reflecting vital national questions about the competitiveness of the UK and Scottish economies, and about social mobility and social justice. Education Scotland has highlighted place-based differences in educational outcomes as a key factor ‘holding Scotland back’. This project aims to develop new understandings of the drivers of place-based educational inequalities, including neighbourhood factors, to inform educational and urban policy.

The UBDC provides a powerful means to explore these drivers by offering access to linked data on the learning trajectories of individual young people, their post-school destinations, the households and neighbourhoods they live in, and the educational institutions they attend. It will provide the means to consider how educational disadvantage is influenced by residential segregation processes (including the divisions created by private renting), by ‘neighbourhood effects’ across the spectrum of urban areas, and by planning and policy.

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