Monitoring and Understanding Urban Transformation: A Mixed Method Approach

Thomas J. Bannan*, James Evans, Jack S. Benton, Pete Edwards, Sebastian Diez, Nicholas Marsden, Michael Flynn, Hugh Coe, Clare Burke, Ettore Murabito, Jamie Anderson, Sheena M. Cruickshank, David Topping

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cities must address many challenges including air quality, climate change and the health and wellbeing of communities. Public authorities and developers increasingly look to improve these through the implementation of interventions and innovations, such as low traffic neighbourhoods, deep housing retrofits and green infrastructure. Monitoring the impacts of interventions is essential to determine the success of such projects and to build evidence for broader urban transformation. In this paper we present a mixed-method cross-disciplinary approach that brings together cutting edge atmospheric and data science, measurements of activity in public spaces and novel methods to assess wellbeing-promoting behaviours. The Manchester Urban Observatory focuses on living areas that have a high density of inter-related systems, which require observation, understanding and intervention at multiple levels. This must be completed in line with urban planning goals as well as a clear and succinct data solution that allows robust scientific conclusions to be made and viewed in real time. Delivery of such a monitoring strategy is not trivial and is time, resource and expertise heavy. This paper discusses the methods employed by the Manchester Urban Observatory to monitor the effectiveness off interventions implemented within cities and effective communication strategies with local communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number787484
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Cities
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the EPSRC UKCRIC Manchester Urban Observatory (University of Manchester) (grant number: EP/P016782/1). The QUANT team would like to thank the UKRI/Defra Clean Air Programme for the funding (NE/T00195X/1). The air quality data from the supersite were supported by UKRI grant NE/T001984/1.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Bannan, Evans, Benton, Edwards, Diez, Marsden, Flynn, Coe, Burke, Murabito, Anderson, Cruickshank and Topping.


  • air quality
  • city data
  • community engagement
  • traffic
  • urban observatory
  • urban transformation
  • wellbeing

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