University of Manchester projects 2020

The following projects are available to apply to at the University of Manchester:

Data anonymisation and data privacy for clinical trial data

Digital twinning for urban evaluation: the cases of Belval and Manchester


Smart Personalized Customer Services by Federated Machine Learning and Evidential Reasoning

Piloting digital approaches to evaluate population level change in wellbeing behaviours


Please see for details of eligibility and how to apply

University of Leeds projects 2020

The following projects are available to apply to at the University of Leeds:

Using data analytics to understand children’s food choice behaviour

Modelling the Diverse Implications of Autonomous Mobility at the City Scale

Exploring the potential of Natural Language Processing techniques in criminal justice agencies: An investigation of racial disparities in release decisions from the Parole Board

Please see for details of eligibility and how to apply

University of Liverpool projects 2020

The following projects are available to apply to at the University of Liverpool:

Counting people

Hedonic pricing models based on Machine Learning

Real estate area classification

Quantitative analysis of urban morphology

Supporting complex legal decision making through data science

Understanding the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock and forecasting how to meet national carbon reduction targets

Predicting demand for UK HE within the global HE market

Please see for details of eligibility and how to apply

University of Sheffield projects 2020

The following projects are available to apply to at the University of Sheffield:

Advancing Economic Development in Sheffield City Region: A Data Analytics Approach

Social frontiers in residential segregation: A data analytics approach

The characteristics and experiences of carers in the UK: trends and variations 2001-2021

Care and caring in geographical context: what difference does place make?

Please see for details of eligibility and how to apply

Contribution to the UK2070 final report documenting the extent of spatial inequalities & proposing actionable strategies

On the 27th February the UK2070 Commission launched the final report documenting the extent of spatial inequalities & proposing actionable strategies. One of our Liverpool students, Nikos Patias contributed to this report along with his supervisors, Franciso Rowe and Dani Arribas-Bel.  The policy brief can be found here –



Turing data study group – April 2018

5 months into our PhD, we (Keiran and Noelyn) applied and got accepted to attend the April Data Study group at the Alan Turing Institute in London. Data Study groups are intensive five-day collaborative hackathons, where data scientists of all levels are brought together to solve interesting real-world data problems submitted by Challenge Owners. Challenge Owners typically come from diverse backgrounds, e.g. industry, government, academia and the third sector, providing participants with the opportunity to work on a wide range of problems that they wouldn’t encounter in their day-to-day work. It takes place at the Alan Turing Building in London, located at the iconic British Library.


Unlike more traditional application processes that focus on CVs and cover letters, the application process for the Data Study group focuses more on participants showing off their technical skills (as well as their ability to collaborate and communicate) by sharing a portfolio of work that illustrates their strengths. Dr Kirstie Whitaker, a Turing Research Fellow, shared her thoughts ( on what she looks out for when assessing an application. Noelyn shared a google drive link which contained her MSc footballer’s value prediction script and report, and a script for a time series prediction model, both written in Python. without prior work experience as a data scientist, her application highlighted recently gained coding skills and zeal to apply them, ability to be a team player, and desire to learn during the process. Keiran, on the other hand, sought to demonstrate his coding and teamwork skills by drawing on the experience of working in industry as part of a development team.


Once accepted, Noelyn’s greatest hindrance to attending was childcare provisions; however, the organisers were very accommodating suggesting she brought her kids along and offering to provide accommodation that would fit. Although she ultimately made other arrangements, this alone cemented her desire to be there and highlighted their agenda of inclusivity.


The five days

Keiran was fortunate enough to be provided with accommodation  in university halls just 5 minutes walk from the Turing Institute, making for an easy commute to the venue. This was particularly valuable given that the programme really is what it says on the tin (‘intensive five-day collaborative hackathon’), starting at 9am on the Monday (most participants arrived on the Sunday) and finishing at 4pm Friday. In-between, participants work up until 9pm, sometimes 10pm. This is made much more tolerable by the breakfasts, lunches and dinners provided, as well as  an array of snacks, iPad powered coffee and fridge full of fizzy drinks.


The first day included registration, a briefing from the organisers and introduction of the challenges by the owners, an icebreaker, group assignment and after lunch group work begins. Starting group work on the first day, gives participants an opportunity to meet other group members and scope working solutions. This is also an important opportunity to rethink group membership (your suitability), which is what Noelyn  had done and by the next day, joined another group after speaking with organisers.


The 2nd, 3rd and 4th day were really straight into the deep end. The end result is not meant to be a fully functioning solution, instead it would be a collation of several ways to tackle the problem which the company can take forward and improve on. This meant that we, the participants, were not restricted and thus given the opportunity to use our expertise while working with team members to ensure that typical data exploration and pre-processing steps were undertaken. To ensure cohesive working and non-duplication of work, each team had a facilitator who worked as the ‘project manager’. Here (,  Chanuki Seresinhe, a visiting researcher talks about her role as a facilitator.


We ended up in the same group, working on a large dataset of training and user records provided by eGym (a company that develops and manufactures advanced products for the fitness market) along with other researchers from a range of backgrounds as well as the project owner. Given the nature of the Data Study Group, we were allowed free rein over the direction in which we took our investigation. This culminated in members of the team splitting off into smaller groups to work on subproblems. The two of us ended up working together, focusing on clustering and segmenting gym users based on their characteristics. This work could then be used to specialise later modelling processes which aimed to estimate the performance gym-goers based on their information and previous performances. Working collaboratively on this project was made possible through the Turing Institute’s cloud virtual machine system, using slack for communicating within and across teams, the use of overleaf for report writing and using Git for code repository.


Although the days may have been long, time was made for socialising in the evening, with a trip to the Namco Funscape arcade allowing the groups to bond as teams.


Whilst each of us became progressively more fixated on our respective corners of the group project, regular catch-up sessions were organised throughout each of the days by our facilitator ensuring that we were all aware of each other’s work and how it might relate to our own, and keeping spirits up when things got tough. Beyond this, he ensured that we each documented our contributions such that by the end of Thursday, we had a cohesive report and presentation which we proudly presented to the other participants, challenge owners and academics on Friday morning.


Final presentations were followed by lunch and a well-earned trip to the pub where we were free to let our hair down and pat ourselves on the backs for a frantic (but fun) week of work.

Kia Ora from New Zealand: CDAS students present their work at the International Medical Geography Symposium, Queenstown

LIDA and GeoHealth Lab researchers at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch


This summer, CDAS students Francesca Pontin and Vicki Jenneson from the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) took their research to the other side of the world at the International Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS) in Queenstown New Zealand (1 – 4 July).  Here they summarise their experiences.

“We feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to present our work as part of a diverse conference programme, which brought together geography, epidemiology and policy. It was an added bonus to have the opportunity to explore New Zealand’s natural beauty, before, during and after the conference.”

Vicki’s journey started in Auckland with a trip to the University of Auckland to meet Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu, a key figure in healthy retail interventions. This new connection could lead to exciting future collaboration prospects and add value to the existing relationship with Vicki’s UK retail data partner.

Fran and Vicki then met for two days of workshops at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. They were joined by fellow Leeds students Charlotte Sturley and Rachel Oldroyd as well as supervisor Michelle Morris and LIDA and CDAS director, Mark Birkin.

“It was a pleasure to meet contacts from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health and the Canterbury Geohealth Lab and to learn about their unique collaborative model. Along with Rachel and Charlotte, we’ll continue to work closely with the New Zealand team to write an upcoming commentary paper about the health research-policy landscape in New Zealand. We hope that this relationship will continue to grow in the future and look towards the potential for overseas exchanges between LIDA and the Geohealth Lab students and staff.”

After the workshop in Christchurch, it was on to Queenstown for the IMGS conference, but not before an impressive pre-flight Parkrun effort by the team.

Charlotte, Michelle, Rachel and Fran endured -5 degrees at the Hagley Park Parkrun in Christchurch

The Queenstown conference took place in a spectacular setting framed by mountains and Lake Wakatipu. Although a daunting prospect for some of the students it was their first international conference, they were soon encouraged by its friendly and supportive atmosphere. The students embraced the unique opportunity to engage with a diverse global community of multi-disciplinary researchers across health, geography, policy and more. The conference provided a great platform for them to develop their networking skills, and along with their supervisors, Fran and Vicki fostered new and cemented existing connections with researchers both in the UK and worldwide.

The IMGS celebrated cultural diversity, with traditional Māori singing and dancing, while speakers addressed the serious issues of health inequalities affecting indigenous Māori and Pacific populations in New Zealand, providing great context to local problems.

View of Queenstown from the conference venue at dusk

Fran enjoyed presenting her work on the use of smartphone data for monitoring physical activity, and said “It was great to be able to present my research to such a specialist and knowledgeable audience. The ensuing conversation around using commercial smartphone data to monitor activity highlighted the potential such data provides in extending the current sphere of knowledge. IMGS has allowed me to make great connections in the UK and further abroad, with potential collaborations on the horizon.”

Fran Pontin presenting at the IMGS, Queenstown


Of her talk about spatial and demographic patterns in fruit and vegetable purchasing in Leeds, Vicki said: It was a really encouraging experience to see the level of discussion and interest that my talk generated. It motivates me to know that I’m doing something truly new and valuable to the wider research community. The dataset that I’m working with is novel and there was lots of excitement about it; I feel that presenting at IMGS helped to put myself and LIDA on the international scene for healthy food retail and big data research.”

Vicki Jenneson presenting at the IMGS, Queenstown

The students also found time for plenty of downtime to explore the breath-taking surroundings. Day trips were invaluable team-building opportunities which strengthened relationships between students and their supervisors within informal settings including; boat cruises, a very muddy bike ride, a winery tour, climbing mountains, skiing and the conference dinner!

Mark Birkin, Fran Pontin, Michelle Morris and Charlotte Sturley pre-muddy cycle ride

Fran Pontin and Michelle Morris on the summit of Ben Lomond

Students Charlotte Sturley, Rachel Oldroyd, Vicki Jenneson & Fran Pontin with supervisor Michelle Morris

Scenic walk around Lake Wakatipu for LIDA students and staff

The students would like to thank the Leeds for Life Conference Award scheme, the Centre for Spatial Analysis and Policy at the School of Geography and their supervisors for their funding and support which enabled them to embark on this exciting experience.

The next IMGS meeting will take place in Edinburgh in 2021. Both Fran and Vicki hope to return to this meeting to present further findings as they approach the end of their PhD research project. The IMGS conference is highly recommended to PhD students with a focus on epidemiology and spatial applications to health research.


Introducing Dr Henri Kauhanen, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Henri Kauhanen is ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow with the Data Analytics & Society CDT from October 2018 to September 2019. Affiliated with the division of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Manchester, Henri works on mathematical and computational models of the population dynamics of language, looking for explanations of universal factors of linguistic variation and change that recur from one language to another. Originally trained as a cognitive scientist, Henri received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Manchester in April 2018, supervised by linguists Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero and George Walkden (now at the University of Konstanz) and theoretical physicist Tobias Galla.


For his one-year ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, Henri is taking a data-driven approach, concentrating on a focal topic in language dynamics but one that has so far received surprisingly little attention. This is the question of what basic rates different features of human language evolve at, and what is to be made of cases where several changes are governed by identical rates of change. To this end, he is writing computer software that aids in fitting the predictions of different models of linguistic change to empirical data, as well as conducting Monte Carlo power analyses of existing methods for model selection, utilising Manchester’s HTCondor high-throughput computing framework. The software will be released as open source packages for the R statistical computing environment by the end of the fellowship.


In addition to work on implementing computer code and writing research articles, the project includes a significant networking and skills development component. Henri attended the 2019 Complex Systems Summer School run by the Santa Fe Institute [link:] in Santa Fe, New Mexico in June and July, attending lectures on complexity, chaos, networks, nonlinear dynamics and related topics, but also working on group projects with physicists, biologists and social scientists. In August, Henri is organising a symposium on language change at Manchester [link:]; alongside regular talks, the two-day long event will feature three keynotes by eminent scholars in the field, focusing on resolving some of the often considerable tension between computational modelling and empirical, data-oriented work.


In the future, Henri is planning to continue working on computational models of language change, aiming in particular to increase the realism of currently available models. In October, he is moving to Germany to take up a second postdoc at the Zukunftskolleg [link:], an Institute for Advanced Study for Junior Researchers at the University of Konstanz.


To find out more about Henri’s research, visit his website at [link:].

CDAS at GISRUK, Newcastle 2019

The centre was recently very well represented at the GISRUK conference – From Data to Decisions.  Presentations were given by several of our students and others also presented posters at the conference.

Annabel Whipp who is in her 2nd year at CDAS, was awarded one of only ten Early career researcher scholarships in order to pay for her attendance and then went on to win the best poster prize at the conference. Annabel’s poster which was based upon her work on spatio-temporal incidences of deliberate fire within West Yorkshire can be found as a digital copy here – Annabel Whipp GISRUK Poster



Nikos Patias – A Scalable Analytical Framework for Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Neighbourhood Change: A Sequence Analysis Approach 

Jennie Gray – Exploring the Dynamics of Geodemographics 

Keiran Suchak – Data Assimilation for Agent-Based Modelling: An Implementation of the Ensemble Kalman Filter 

Sedar Olmez – Modelling the dynamics of police demand and resourcing over space and time

Lena Kilian – Understanding patterns of consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions in Bristol 

Annabel Whipp – Developing a methodology for validating pedestrian counts from Wi-Fi sensors to aid in quantifying the ambient population 



Annabel Whipp – Incidences of deliberate fire in West Yorkshire: Spatio-temporal patterns and influences on trends

Krasen Samardzhiev – Analyzing urban vitality patterns with topological data analysis

Melanie Green – Comparing the urban environment with socioeconomic characteristics using features extracted from aerial imagery

Ryan Urquhart – Socio-demographic and spatial disaggregation of E-commerce use in the grocery market in Great Britain