Our projects

The MUO currently has several themes outlined below. In these we are working with a number of collaborators based in Greater Manchester. These partners are working with us to make our city smart and environmentally sustainable.

If you would like to join us and/or have proposals for further themes and collaborations, please contact: Manchester Urban Observatory - Collaborations


Evaluating mobile air quality measurements

Evaluating mobile AQ measurements against existing network and new UKRIC base stations

The rise of IoT enabled devices has pushed rapid development and deployment of AQ devices with little or no provenance. Using a unique laboratory and city based calibration standards, in this project we will rotate a range of AQ IoT devices across the city to evaluate the efficacy of monitoring to develop dynamic and fine grained understandings of pollution [UKRI Clean Air programme]

Researchers: David Topping, Hugh Coe, Thomas Bannan

Health AI project image


A digital learning health system to support self-care for people with Cystic Fibrosis

The CFHealthHub digital platform was designed in collaboration with 6 Universities, 23 Cystic Fibrosis (CF) centres and more than 1000 patients. During COVID19, it is critically important to minimise time in hospital for people with Cystic Fibrosis, to limit the risk of infection.

Further details can be found here.

Researchers: Pauline Whelan, Charlotte Stockton-Powdrell, John Ainsworth, David Topping, James Evans


Detecting biological particulates in the urban environment

Primary biological aerosols (PBA) consist of bacteria, viruses, fungal and plant spores, fragments of plant or animal matter and pollen. Accounting for >25% of global organic aerosol emissions, allergenic PBA contribute to chronic diseases that have increased dramatically in the last few decades. For example, the UK has one of the highest prevalence of doctor-diagnosed asthma, affecting around 10% of the adult population. Using a new online method for sampling biological particles, we will be able to profile, for the first time, the contribution from PBA to the urban environment in Manchester. [MRC + NERC]

Researchers: David Topping, Sheena Cruickshank


Quantifying citizen behavioural response to the city environment

Developing mitigation strategies to ‘empower’ people in cities to make informed decisions about behaviour [e.g. moving away from polluted routes]. How do we know this isn't already happening effectively? In this project we would use the new UKRIC infrastructure to evaluate the key factors that dictate citizen response/mobility and behaviour in the City [ESRC / GCRF]

Researchers: Caroline Jay


Health Wearables

Personal markers of health effects from environmental stressors.

The use of wearable devices by groups of patients or health individuals will be linked with data collected on air quality, behaviour, and other factors and would allow studies of immediate health responses on air pollution episodes

Researchers: Martie Van Tongeren, Melanie Carder, Alex Casson, Hua Wei


People's use of public space using camera data

Monitoring well-being

The use of public spaces are known to improve health and wellbeing via several mechanisms, such as by reducing stress and facilitating physical activity. We will try to measure the impact of such space availability on a variety of demographic groups within Manchester.

Researchers: Jamie Anderson Jack Benton


Air Quality in Manchester Schools

Impact on children

According to scientists at the University of Manchester, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10s – the most noxious pollutants coughed out in exhaust fumes – contribute to at least 2,000 premature deaths in the region every year. We are working closely with schools in Manchester to assess the potential impact on children.

Researchers: Julian Skyrme, Hugh Coe