£7m data hub launched to improve public health and environment

New digital hub will optimise spend on environment, society, economy and health
08 December 2021 , Katie Coyne

Manchester University’s new £7m digital health hub will capture a wealth of environmental data aimed at enabling government and business to plan infrastructure investment and manage climate change.

A pioneering digital environmental health hub designed to provide insights that could help deliver economic, societal and environmental benefits is being set up by Manchester University.

Data will encompass pollution, flooding, biodiversity, geology, carbon capture and environmental health, as well as economic, health and societal information from other sources including the Office of National Statistics.

Backers hope the insights provided by the hub will assist national and local governments, the NHS, and business to plan their infrastructure spending to make better decisions in areas such as climate adaptation, reducing disaster risks, and improving public health.

The Manchester team will be working closely with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) that has provided £7m for four years’ work.

Hub stakeholders include the Environment Agency, Defra, Natural England, SEPA, Natural Resources Wales, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Climate Northern Ireland, Health and Safety Executive, NHS Digital, Public Health agencies and the Government Actuaries Department.

Project lead, Professor Richard Kingston said: “We are really excited to be embarking on this hugely important programme of work with NERC at a time when decisions about our natural and built environment are crucial to the future of the UK. This is a fantastic project which recognises the depth of expertise we have at the University of Manchester.

“The hub will benefit society by improving the ability to make informed decisions through the integration of data that has benefits for the future prosperity of the UK.”

“Our team will be working with key decision makers across the public sector and industry. This is to ensure they have access to cross-sectional data which enables a much greater understanding of environmental, social, economic and health matters.

“Over the next four years the hub will benefit society by improving decision makers’ ability to make informed decisions through the integration of data that has benefits for the future prosperity of the UK.

“This will allow them to make informed decisions for the future and help them target investment in services and areas in a wide range of sectors including health, transport, urban and regional planning and utilities.” 

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC, said: “NERC holds a unique and hugely significant treasure-trove of data, collated over many years by our funded scientists and institutes.

“By combining this with data from other sources and using it in new ways, we will unlock new insights to support more informed decisions, changing communities for the better.”

Researchers at Manchester will also collaborate with Cardiff University, University of Exeter, Newcastle University, University of Southampton, the Turing Institute, Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI), and the Connected Places Catapult.

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