Professor Rachel Franklin

Professor Rachel Franklin


Turing Fellow and Turing University Lead - Newcastle

Former position

Turing Fellow

Partner Institution


Rachel Franklin is Turing University Lead, and Professor of Geographical Analysis in the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) at Newcastle University. At Newcastle, she is also theme lead for Spatial Analytics at Newcastle Centre for Data and part of the team leading the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Geospatial Systems. Prior to joining Newcastle, she was the Associate Director of Brown University's initiative in Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4), in the U.S. She is trained as a quantitative human geographer and her research focus is in spatial demography and the interplay between spatial analytics and demographic change, in particular quantifying patterns, sources and impacts of spatial inequality.

Research interests

Her research interests are in the sources and impacts of demographic change as it occurs at multiple spatial scales, and in novel forms of data and analysis to identify and characterise these changes. Franklin works at the regional and local scales to understand how best to characterize or measure the populations of places; how location and scale are related to demographic change; and how migration, especially internal, affects demographic composition. She is especially interested in how we use data and statistics to understand what sorts of people are located where, how this changes over time, and what this means for our understanding of spatial inequality.

Current research has addressed how smart city technologies, particularly sensors, contribute to and reinforce socio-economic and spatial inequalities. Funded by the Alan Turing Institute, this project aims to identify who is affected by ‘sensor deserts’, ascertain coverage for vulnerable populations, and improve understanding of connections between urban mobility and sensor density and location. This work contributes to a growing body of research that highlights the potential risk of smart cities amplifying rather than reducing inequality and quality of life, providing a blueprint to assist cities in better adoption of smart city technologies.

Other recent and ongoing projects address regional inequality, population loss, and shrinkage at the local and regional scales. This research has focused in particular on identifying patterns in and trends; the demographic sources of population loss; spatial metrics for urban shrinkage; and the impacts of loss on inequality. These projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health in the United States and, more recently, the ESRC.