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Leeds City Council

Civic Collaborations

As one of the country’s largest and most renowned civic universities, the University of Leeds has always had a strong mission for impact and partnership with its city region.  This potential has also been recognised in LIDA since the outset, for example through joint PhD projects, data science interns and post-doctoral research on major programmes such as Quanticode and the CDRC.  For a time, this interaction was accelerated further by co-location of a substantial group of analysts from Leeds City Council on Worsley Level 11.

A recent strategy – Unlocking the Potential of Civic Collaboration – – is the latest initiative across the city and campus to advance this important partnership between town and gown.  A delivery plan for this strategy is supported by a Reference Group comprising senior managers in both the University and the City Council, and chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research.  Optimising data analysis is a specific priority within the strategy to facilitate collaborative research.  The responsibility for this is shared between Mark Birkin as LIDA Co-Director and Simon Foy, Head of Intelligence and Policy at Leeds City Council.

In line with the strategy for civic collaboration, LIDA has pushed forward a range of projects in recent months.  A series of activities and events relating to the delivery of healthier and more sustainable school meals has included a public-facing event at Kirkgate Market in September 2021.  Mobility within the city region is the focus of two projects in the current cohort of LIDA data science internships, including the development of tools for developing active travel policies, and an agent-based ‘digital twin’ of Leeds, the West Yorkshire region, and ten other northern city regions.  The mobility theme is also integral to joint work which has been undertaken this year to understand and mitigate the effects of successive waves of coronavirus in the city.  Social scientists across the University are now coordinating more closely than ever before with colleagues in mathematics, computing and data sciences across the LIDA community through the formation of a new research community, named LIDA: Societies, as a major vertical theme within the Institute. LIDA: Societies has aligned its objectives with major challenges facing the region, and in 2022 will consolidate and coordinate new initiatives focused on these areas.

Data sharing across the city of Leeds is also being driven forward through the establishment of an Office for Data Analytics, which is populated by a growing team of data professionals from across the City Council, but coordinated by a Board combining representatives from many service divisions and including LIDA as a major external stakeholder.  Joint discussions to promote sharing of cloud infrastructure and protocols for data governance have already taken place.  It is anticipated that the ODA will rapidly establish itself as a Clearing House for data and its applications in support of the ambitions of the city to deliver higher quality outcomes with data, but with a longer-term ambition to increase the facility with which data may be used in applications for research.  We look forward to productive collaborations between the University, City Council and other regional stakeholders for significant mutual long-term benefits.”

Professor Mark Birkin, LIDA Co-Director

The Quanticode collaboration

QuantiCode was funded under the EPSRC Making Sense of Data call to develop data mining and visualization techniques that transform people’s ability to analyse quantitative and coded longitudinal data. Such data are common in many sectors. Leeds City Council was one of several external partners which also included NHS Digital, Sainsbury’s, Bradford Institute of Health Research, and Consumerdata Ltd.

The University of Leeds and Leeds City Council collaborated on a project that uses data analytics to help people who are at risk of going into residential care to be supported to stay at home for longer. In the video below, Professor Roy Ruddle (PI leading team of academics on the Quanticode project), Dr. Jan Palczewski (School of Maths) and Will Ridge (Leeds City Council) discuss what made the project a success.

Click here to view the video of Professor Ruddle, Dr, Palczewski and Mr Ridge discuss what made this collaboration a success.

If you are external to the University you may be unable to view this video. If you would like to see a copy please email, or if you would like to read more about Quanticode please click here.


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