Smart and happy cities: Economic and Social Research Council and The Alan Turing Institute Fellowship

Professor Alison Heppenstall, from the School of Geography, has been awarded a joint fellowship to improve understanding of ‘smart’ and ‘happy’ cities.

This joint fellowship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and The Alan Turing Institute aims to build collaboration between the social sciences and data science. 

Professor Heppenstall will lead a project exploring the underlying social processes in ‘smart city’ data. The aim is to analyse and find patterns in this data, which could tell us how to solve real problems that plague cities today, such as congestion and air pollution.

She says: “This new partnership gives a unique opportunity to combine the methodological expertise of The Alan Turing Institute with expertise in applied data analytical and urban simulation at Leeds.

“Through this collaboration, we will create new understanding and better simulations of how individuals move around and use cities. It will lead to advancements in how we link ‘big data’ and traditional sources, AI-inspired methodologies and allow pressing societal questions to be addressed.

“I’m incredibly excited at the opportunities this will give me in terms of being able to work in a purely interdisciplinary environment, but also working with such a large group of diverse methodological experts.”

This is first ESRC-Turing fellowship to be granted. The fellowships are also designed to support new studentships to bring on the next generation of researchers in this area. The fellows will act as the primary supervisor for two studentships.

Sir Alan Wilson, Chief Executive of The Alan Turing Institute, says: “We have a growing cohort of researchers in social data science at the Turing, and we look forward to welcoming Professor Heppenstall to undertake her exciting project at the Institute.”

The University has recently announced that it is set to become partner of The Alan Turing Institute with the work being led by the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) with contributions from researchers and data scientists across the University. 

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