Cities and Environment

Digital technologies, including sensor networks, data analytics and agile control systems, have the potential to transform cities, and the lives of those who live and work in them, by helping us better understand, plan and manage them.

Richard Kingston

Theme Lead

Professor Richard Kingston

Scope of theme

Working closely with Greater Manchester, we will take a broad multidisciplinary approach to address the challenges, bringing together science and engineering, behavioural psychology, social science, public policy, and social geography with expertise in health, social services and other public services.

The theme includes:

  • integrated transport;
  • building management and energy efficiency;
  • water and waste management;
  • digitally-enabled public services;
  • air quality monitoring;
  • spatial analytics;
  • communities and citizen engagement. 

Our strengths

Manchester has a strong track record of urban research which draws on the city of Manchester’s unique place at the epicentre of industrial capitalism and the city's response to 21st-century devolution, which will potentially bring far-reaching consequences for those living in Manchester and beyond.

Our Smart Cities projects integrate multiple solutions to manage a city's systems securely including transportation systems, health, environment and more.

Research areas

Air quality

The Centre for Atmospheric Science studies processes important to climate change and air quality.


The University of Manchester is pioneering the energy systems of the future so that we can continue to heat our homes, light our buildings and travel.

Living Lab

The University Living Lab is developing The University of Manchester campus as a site for applied teaching and research around sustainability and low carbon.

Spatial analysis projects

ICT and geographic information systems have given rise to many exciting projects. Examples include location analytics: pinpointing the vital information, connections and patterns.

TellUs toolkit

The TellUs Toolkit is an overarching spatial digital platform that allows citizens (or nominated user group/s) to connect to and interact with a variety of spatially referenced data and content using online Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The overall aim of the project is to develop and test an applied Multi-Criteria-Evaluation (MCE) Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) methodology for utility network constraint mapping using a case study approach.

Map for England

A study from The University of Manchester examining a broad range of existing government policies and how - with an overarching framework - a Map for England - policy makers could make better judgments about how individual policy proposals interact with and affect the development of the country as a whole. It would also increase consistency in appraisal, improve security and resilience, and provide a better understanding of sectoral issues that might complement or conflict with each other.

Climate Proof Cities

The aim of Climate Proof Cities is to build a multi-scale (from the level of buildings via neighbourhoods to city agglomerations) quantitative knowledge base on urban climate, the vulnerability of cities to climate change, and expected impacts of possible future changes in climate.


The University of Manchester collaborated with a wide range of contributors to develop The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's ClimateJust. It is an information tool designed to help with the delivery of equitable responses to climate change at the local level.


Commute-flow is a brand new geodemographic classification of commuting flows for England and Wales based on origin-destination data from the 2011 Census that has been used to analyse the spatial dynamics of commuting.

This toolkit presents data outputs in order to help policy makers use the data to support transport investment decisions and understand patterns of commuting. There is lots of untapped potential for this data to be used to evaluate transport policy and investment decisions so resources are more effectively and efficiently targeted to places of need.

The toolkit allows you to explore levels of commuting and compare the level of connectivity of each neighbourhood to major employment centres. The underlying rationale for the research is that the toolkit will help deliver efficiencies in public and private sector investment.

Research centres

Manchester Urban Institute (MUI)

The Manchester Urban Institute is home to a number of interdisciplinary research agendas and themes.

Manchester Environmental Research Institute (MERI)

The Manchester Environmental Research Institute unites knowledge and expertise from across The University of Manchester to address the environmental challenges we face today.

Research projects

Find out more