CERC — Environmental Software and Services

QCumber-EnvHealth: a new integrated decision-making tool for urban health and policy evaluation

Q-Cumber smart city image

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QCumber-EnvHealth is a new software tool to quantify urban environmental exposure and health risks under different policy scenarios. It is being developed under an Innovate UK collaborative research and development project bringing together business, universities and the public sector.

Decision-making and planning in rapidly growing urban centres require integrated assessment tools to determine impacts on environmental exposure, health and inequalities. However, there is a lack of integrated tools with which to determine current and future health risks and to evaluate policy options. In addition, despite the increasing availability of data, key datasets for such tools often have limited spatial detail  since environmental monitoring is limited to a few urban sites and health microdata (such as confidential NHS records) has restricted access, and methods for linking exposure to health have not been exploited. This project is addressing all these issues in the context of Glasgow to create a unique data platform for health policy and inequality related decision-making: “QCumber-EnvHealth”.

NO2 annual average

NO2 annual average concentration for Glasgow over 2014 modelled with ADMS-Urban

The project brings together CERC and the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde with Transport Scotland. CERC has extensive experience in software development, modelling and analysing city data, including environmental exposure modelling and the innovative "QCumber" data platform. The Universities have extensive research expertise in environmental exposure, human health and inequalities, including comprehensive high density measurement capabilities, the development of novel synthetic data estimation techniques for information rich health microdata and spatio-temporal health risk modelling. Close engagement with identified end-users at Glasgow City Council, Transport Scotland, Future Cities Glasgow, Health Protection Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, is being maintained throughout the project. The project runs from November 2015 to October 2017.

Image of Q-Cumber Smart City

(Click to enlarge)

QCumber is an innovative open city data platform with crowd-sourcing and environmental tools, combining data from diverse sources into a user-friendly query framework. The platform was developed by the Italian SME Algebra and is rapidly expanding in Italy, having been adopted for crowd-sourcing by several cities.

QCumber was proven by CERC as a city data platform in a 2014 feasibility study funded by Innovate UK under Phase 1 of their Future City Solutions SBRI competition Data Challenge. Prototype platforms were created for the five cities who volunteered to participate in the ‘Data Challenge’ (Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Ipswich and London) and demonstrated to the city authorities. All five city authorities were enthusiastic about the potential benefits of the system. An article about the feasibility study was published in GIS Professional magazine.

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