Cranfield Urban Observatory eyes city of the future Image: Cranfield University

Observatory is a £1 million state-of-the-art, campus-wide sensor network

Work has started on the Cranfield Urban Observatory, part of the UK’s largest urban research programme. The programme is looking at how our cities could be managed and developed in the future for human wellbeing.

The heart of the Observatory is a £1 million state-of-the-art, campus-wide sensor network. This monitors factors such as air and noise pollution, ecosystem dynamics and resource flows.

The data will be used to investigate the effects of change and plan healthy and sustainable urban environments.

Cranfield is one of six universities receiving UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) funding to establish Urban Observatories as platforms for research into future social, economic and environmental infrastructure solutions, technology and governance.

Dr Simon Jude, senior lecturer, Centre for Environmental and Agricultural Informatics, said:

“We’re delighted to be part of this groundbreaking project which will explore how our cities react to change and assess the impact of urban development on our environment. Hundreds of sensors are now being deployed across our campus.

“Along with enabling cutting-edge research, data from the Observatory will be an invaluable resource for teaching too.”

Professor Jim Harris, professor of Environmental Technology, Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute, said:

“Unlike other city-based Urban Observatories, Cranfield offers a unique combination of infrastructure including our global research airport and other near-industrial scale facilities such as our wastewater treatment works and Multi-User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation (MUEAVI), all entirely controlled by the University.

“Our semi-rural, peri-urban location at the centre of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc also provides an unparalleled research and learning opportunity.”

Cranfield Urban Observatory is a key component of Cranfield University’s living laboratory. This is a testbed for transformative technologies and new approaches to deliver enhanced social, economic and environmental outcomes in urban, transport and infrastructure systems.