The Turing has today announced the launch of two new research programmes in urban analytics and data science for science, which will join its seven other programmes in areas such as in AI, government engineering and defence. 

All the Institute research programmes are drawn from eight research challenges published earlier this year which depict the areas in which data science and AI can have the biggest impact. 

Urban analytics

Cities are now home to the majority of the world’s population, and are drivers of economic growth, wealth creation, social interaction and well-being. The Turing’s urban analytics programme will focus on the process, structure, interactions and evolution of agents, technology and infrastructure within and between cities across spatial and temporal scales. The programme will support assessments, projections and interventions which determine the economic and social welfare of people, businesses, governments and third sector agencies. In addition to government and public planning, the programme is relevant to organisations across sectors including retail, financial services, mobility, health, policing and utilities. 

The urban analytics programme will be led by Professor Mark Birkin, Turing Fellow and Professor of Spatial Analysis and Policy in the School of Geography, University of Leeds. Mark is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Data science for science 

It is becoming easier and easier to collect large amounts of data across a broad range of research areas, and there is a growing need to understand how this can best be exploited to make new discoveries. The data science for science programme aims to ensure that the research community (in science, arts and humanities) can make effective use of state-of-the-art methods in artificial intelligence and data science. The programme will facilitate collaborative working with researchers from all disciplines across the Turing's university partner network and with national research facilities. 

The programme will be led by Professor Jonathan Rowe, Turing Fellow and Professor of Natural Computation in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. Jonathan is also an Associate Editor for Theoretical Computer Science journal, and is a panel member for various organisations including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Irish Research Council and Athena SWAN.

Adrian Smith, Institute Director and Chief Executive, said:

“Data science and artificial intelligence are wide-ranging sciences which are set to have a considerable impact on many different areas of research. This is clear through the rapid growth of the Institute within such a short time, as we expand to nine research programmes. In our urban analytics programme, data science and AI tools and expertise will be developed and deployed alongside spatial analysis, geostatistics and a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives. In our data science for science programme we will bring modern computational methods to areas which have historically been understood qualitatively. I look forward to seeing the impact of the two new programmes.”

Professor Mark Birkin, Programme Director for Urban Analytics, said:

“The Institute has announced its urban analytics programme at an opportune time. New data from ‘smart cities’ is providing transformative insights all over the world. Devices ranging from wearables to smart tickets will permit deeper understanding of behaviour and lifestyles, economic prosperity, mobility and health, with positive impacts for business, planners and policymakers as well as the scientific community. The Turing is ideally placed to exploit these opportunities through the advancement of methods ranging from visual simulation to artificial intelligence. I am looking forward to working with the Turing’s unique network of universities and external partners to create an ambitious programme of academic investigation with real world impact.”

Professor Jonathan Rowe, Programme Director for Data Science for Science, said:

“I firmly believe that the use of artificial intelligence methods, applied to large data sets, will become a dominant research methodology across the whole range of science and humanities. The Alan Turing Institute is in a unique position to help make this happen. I will be working with our partner universities, national labs and international institutions to develop truly interdisciplinary projects, bringing expertise in data science and AI to bear on major research questions. It is an exciting opportunity, and I am really looking forward to being part of this scientific revolution.”

Find out more about the urban analytics and data science for science programmes. 

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Notes for editors:

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University of Birmingham
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University of Leeds
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