The Urban Living Partnership pilot phase in Newcastle and Gateshead will diagnose the complex and interdependent challenges within the urban region, working collaboratively to co-design and implement initiatives and solutions in order to contribute to the life and development of the area. Led by Newcastle University and featuring project partners from across the Quadruple Helix model from government, industry, academia and civil society, we will form the Newcastle City Futures Unit and implement an inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to the initial 18 month pilot project, allowing us to synoptically approach challenges and develop a platform for innovative urban solutions.
As a post-industrial urban area with more than 381,100 citizens, Newcastle and Gateshead form the heart of a contiguous urban conurbation of over 1 million people. We are a region facing numerous challenges, and perform below average on a number of socio-economic factors such as economic activity, educational attainment and health. Our pilot phase work will look to identify specific issues around these and other challenges, framed through our themes of “Ageing”, Sustainability” and “Social Renewal”, which have been identified previously as areas of particular significance for the city region.
Newcastle and Gateshead provide the perfect platform to establish this pilot project, based on the success of the Newcastle City Futures 2065 project which was part of the UK Foresight Future of Cities programme. This work initiated collaborative working between HEIs and local authorities in the area in order to address long term complex city problems beyond traditional disciplines and sectors in order to reflect the complex government and organisational environment that is a hallmark of 21st century cities. This project acted as an urban incubator to identify themes through scenarios and Delphi methods which built on the existing assets of the city region to achieve innovation through research, policy development and demonstrator projects. The themes identified through this work were “the age friendly city”, “the sustainable city”, “the creative city” and “the science city”, and along with evidence of a need for more detailed work to understand the drivers of change affecting cities. The work also identified the need for support for new digital platforms in order to exchange data across sectors, multifunctional demonstrator projects which offer innovative solutions to problems and opportunities across all sectors, as well as support for visualisation of long-term scenarios by bringing together expertise in areas such as computing, mapping, spatial analysis and urban planning. The Newcastle City Futures Unit will build on this, to establish an urban accelerator, to co-produce and collaboratively design practical solutions and policy recommendations in order to drive the future policy agenda and shape deliverable demonstration and innovation projects within Newcastle and Gateshead.
An array of methods will be utilised across the duration of the project, including foresight futures methodologies such as Delphi surveys, scenario building and systems analysis work to help representatives from HEIs, businesses and civil society to identifying long term challenges in the city region and to create a vision for the future of the cities that can be replicated elsewhere. Visualisation techniques will also be implemented combining expertise in computing, mapping, spatial analysis and urban planning, with consortium partners facilitating identification of suitable case studies for the work.
Through the work outlined above, the Newcastle City Futures Unit will build capacity amongst a wide range of stakeholders to realise communities of practice that are futures oriented and make a measurable difference to the cities and their citizens.
Date: July 2016 – January 2018
Funding: EPSRC (EP/P00203X/1)
Collaborators: Ruth Dalton (Northumbria), Patrick Olivier (Newcastle) and Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Newcastle)
Shaun joined Northumbria University in November 2015 after leaving the University of Lincoln where he led the Lincoln Social Computing (LiSC) Research Centre for a number of years.
After doing a postdoc at the University of Surrey, he took up his first academic post at in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University in 2000. In 2005 he moved to Lincoln first as a Senior Lecturer, then Reader and he was appointed the Uk’s first Professor in social computing in 2011. His research primarily explores the use and significance of social media, and other digital services, in people’s lives and he has conducted applied work in areas such as health and wellbeing, politics and activism, and sustainability. His current focus is on the convergence of broadcast and social media in political and societal context and on how technology is used is support mental health, wellbeing and social support and cohesion. He has held grants totalling over £2million in the past 5 years from funders such as EPSRC, ESRC, the EU and Microsoft Research and is the author, or co-author, of over 100 peer-reviewed publications. He was Chair of British HCI 2015 and is the founding chair of the UK’s SIGCHI chapter.