New Project: Using big data to react to civil emergencies

image of a digital city, from the ERC press website

I’m delighted to have recently been awarded funding of €1.5M from the European Research Council to fund a 5-year project entitled Data Assimilation for Agent-Based Models: Applications to Civil Emergencies (DUST).

The project has been featured as on of the Research Council’s example projects in a recent press release:

One of the means of responding to civil emergencies such as flooding, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, fire, train or air crashes, etc., is to simulate the behaviour of humans during disasters using mathematical models. However, current techniques are not designed to consider up-to-date information on urban movements, and are usually based on historical data from censuses and surveys.

Dr Nicolas Malleson, from the University of Leeds, will address this shortcoming by integrating data assimilation methods, used in weather forecasting, and apply them to models of cities. He will develop a cutting-edge simulation of a city that will include real-time big data streamed from, for instance, social media, mobile phone use, and public transport records. This new technique could be used to develop more accurate forecasts of and responses to potential emergency situations, as well as more efficient urban management and planning.

The project will begin in the next couple of months.

Interestingly, the threats posed by brexit don’t seem to have stopped the UK from being able to access EU funding (yet!). The UK has just been awarded 79 grants, more than any other EU country.