Levenshulme Active Neighbourhood and the Manchester Urban Observatory

Despite the uncertain and concerning time we are in, the team at the Manchester Urban Observatory are still working hard to initiate new projects and we are now very happy to be working closely with the Levenshulme Active Neighbourhood, an exciting new project that aims to completely rejuvenate this area of Manchester.

We have chosen to place a large array of sensors in Levenshulme, which is about half way between Manchester City Centre and Stockport. This area has been chosen in large part due the forthcoming investment in the area, which in the next few years will be developed into an active ‘filtered’ neighbourhood, aiming to be the most cycling and walking-friendly area in Greater Manchester. This will be funded by the GM Mayor’s Challenge Fund and the MCC to the order of £2.5 million. As well as been a highly residential area with schools of various levels, we feel this is an ideal opportunity to map an area of this type, with a particular focus on air quality, but with a significant amount of fixed and variable interventions to be implemented, it also allows the effectiveness of these interventions to be understood. In terms of the interventions planned, we feel this is an ambitious project in a fairly small area of Manchester and should it be measured correctly it can give us an understanding of the effectiveness of various interventions and how this can best be scaled up or replicated in the future.

Levenshulme Active Neighbourhood - Visualisation

"It's an important and exciting development for our filtered neighbourhood project to be able to work closely with the team at Manchester Urban Observatory. The installation and expert analysis of area wide, air quality monitors and traffic count equipment is an invaluable addition. Together, this will allow us to track the myriad of data collected at planned interventions. Our project hopes that it can provide behaviour change and environmental evidence of the positive impact of making simple infrastructure changes within our local communities. We're looking forward to seeing the long term data results of our scheme! " – Pauline Johnstone

The first phase of installations will include over 15 air quality sensors and 8 traffic and/or pedestrian counters. The majority of the air quality sensors will measure PM1, PM2.5, PM10, NOx, O3 and CO as well as meteorological data such as windspeed and direction. The met data will be extremely important to have alongside the air quality data to have a better understanding of sources and the effect the interventions will have.

Traffic and behaviour changes are also extremely important to track and we will be doing this with 4 traffic counters that will measure and count vehicle type, speed and direction in areas where there are variable traffic filters. There will also be installations of 4 vehicle and pedestrian counters that use artificial intelligence to measure vehicle, cyclists and pedestrian behaviours and these will be placed in areas where we suspect local travel behaviours may be significantly influenced by the interventions in place, particularly around schools for instance. Sensors of this type will, where possible, be co-located with the air quality sensors so a link can be made between the two.

Unfortunately, the sensors were not installed prior to the University closing, which would of course have been very useful data, however we are working hard so that once we are able to do so we hope to make a quick start with the installations and measurements. The results and the first phase of installations will inform us where there are gaps or interesting areas to put a second wave of sensors in, should we think that will be of benefit to the project.

We look forward to seeing the data from the first wave of measurements and hearing what you think about the project.