News 2019-06-10T14:11:57+00:00


Energy Storage in Cities

March 16th, 2019|

In this article we’ll explain how electrical and thermal energy storage systems may be used in the residential built environment - one of the many uses for the data obtained from Urban Flows’ sensors. We’ll also suggest some of the ways in which the monitored substation power flow and solar irradiance data might facilitate studies into the value of such energy storage. Potential Uses of Energy Storage Integration of photovoltaic (PV) generators into local and national power networks Photovoltaic (solar) [...]

The Skint Researcher’s Blog: Low Cost ‘Volunteer Sensors’ in Sheffield

February 19th, 2019|

The Skint Researcher’s Blog: Using low-cost ‘Volunteer Sensors’ to help solve the air pollution problem in Sheffield I love heading to my local park at the weekend for an early morning jog, taking in the fresh air mixed with the scent of leaves and rain. The peace, quiet and greenery allow me to collect my thoughts, which do have a habit of spiralling around in my mind. On weekdays, as a PhD student, my commute takes me directly into Sheffield [...]

Introducing MARVEL

December 21st, 2018|

Buildings make up the largest segment of the built environment; globally they consume 30% of all energy. Adding new technology or features to older buildings is known as retrofitting. The intent may be to improve energy efficiency or decrease energy demand during the ongoing life of the building and is often more cost-effective and viable than a completely new construction. The challenges of retrofitting There are two different issues within retrofitting. Retrofitting individual buildings faces the challenge of identifying where [...]

A National Network of Urban Observatories

November 26th, 2018|

Our latest blogs have been focused on some of the different things we’ve been working on in the Urban Flows Observatory. In this one, we’re going to tell you about the wider UK network of Urban Observatories that we’re a part of - and why this a good thing. Urban Flows Observatory and UKCRIC In our first blog we mentioned that we’re part of UKCRIC, a national collaboration of Universities. Well, what exactly is UKCRIC you ask? It stands for [...]

Sensing Sheffield – The Urban Flows Sensor Build Competition

September 18th, 2018|

The Urban Flows Sensor Build Competition was an idea that originally came from our Chief Technical Officer Steve Jubb. We were keen to engage with people who had a passion for creating and making things; 9 months in and we’re still buzzing from the excitement of setting up the project. Creativity is important in helping us to achieve our goal of sensing the city of Sheffield to pick up real time data from the environment around us. We decided to [...]

Custom Built Sensing Equipment for the Urban Flows Observatory

July 31st, 2018|

Postgraduate Researcher Tom Wilkes has been working with the Urban Flows Observatory on the development of novel remote sensing equipment. Following a background in Earth Sciences, Tom embarked on a PhD in Volcanology at the University of Sheffield in 2015. During this time he has designed and built a low-cost UV camera, spectrometer and thermal imaging camera, to aid in volcano monitoring and research. It is this interest in remote sensing technology which has led him to work on developing [...]

More events coming soon…

Upcoming Events

Interested in air quality? Join us for an afternoon of talks and discussions from leading researchers, academics and policy makers in air pollution.
We will be providing a platform for bridging the disciplinary gaps through scholarly dialogue and interdisciplinary exchange.

Urban Flows, together with the Urban Institute and The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures are collaborating on the University of Sheffield’s first symposium dedicated to understanding more about air quality and the ways we can influence policy and decision making in our cities to reduce the impact of air

More info coming soon!

Urban Flows will be on the road this summer at BlueDot Festival 2019! Join us and representatives from the Grantham Centre and ACSE to find out how tracking flow through the festival site can help us understand how cities work. Try our Virtual Reality headsets, Thermal Cameras, and LIDAR mapping to develop your own real-time data and analysis of the Festival. See you there!

Past Events

Air pollution is on the increase across our planet and has serious health implications for us all. So how big a problem is it? What can we do to stop it? And how can we protect ourselves from its harmful effects? Find the answers to these questions and get hands-on with science in a ‘fresh’ citizen-science project on air quality. Attendees will get to build and take home their own Raspberry-Pi powered air quality monitors, and be part of a pioneering research project.


Date & Time: Thursday 16th May, 17:30-19:00

Location: Lecture Theatre 2, Hicks Building, 226 Hounsfield Road, Sheffield, S3 7RH

This event is a part of the Festival of Debate: www.festivalofdebate.com

Due to decades of over-borrowing from our planet’s natural assets, an environmental collapse is imminent. Everything from clothes to packaging follows a life of ‘take-use-dispose’. By adopting a circular economy, we can reduce the amount of waste we produce. Can this be achieved? Who is responsible? What can be done?


Prof. Tony Ryan OBE (Chair, The University of Sheffield)
Prof. Lenny Koh (The University of Sheffield)
Kevin Vyse (On Pack Recycling Label)
Mary Creagh (MP for Wakefield)
Maya De Souza (DEFRA)

Date & Time: Saturday 4th May, 14:00 – 16:30

Location: The Diamond, 32 Leavygreave Road, MindSphere Lounge, Sheffield, S3 7RD

A workshop has been organised in conjunction with “Clean Air Sheffield” and “Urban Flows Observatory”, The University of Sheffield at which air quality monitoring sensors will be built and kept by the participants for free.The workshop will take place on Saturday 4th May from 2 pm at the MindSphere Lounge in the Diamond Building and is part of a citizen science initiative using low-cost air quality monitors to increase public awareness.

The air quality monitors we will use are based on the German open source project, Luftdaten. The idea of running these workshops here is to handle some of the more tedious and error-prone elements (ordering components, loading their software onto the chips), showing how to build the kits yourself, how to access the real-time data and also to provide some local context on our current air pollution monitoring.

Register here!

The week commencing Monday 15th October marks the start of the University of Sheffield’s Sustainability Week. Each day will see a different talk about how the University is using their power as a research-led university to tackle interlinked social, environmental and economic challenges through ambitious, interdisciplinary thinking.

As part of this we are delivering a  ‘Sustainability in the Pub’ talk at the University Arms on Friday 19th October starting at 17:30 where the team will explain what we’re measuring and why, so together we can create healthy, happy cities.

Check out the Eventbrite page to register!

Venue: MindSphere Lounge, The Diamond, University of Sheffield

The Urban Flows Researchers Forum will be a chance to explore existing and potential research activity in the following areas:

1. Weather station data (9am)

2. Air Quality (10am)

3. Thermal Data (11am)

4. Visualisation of data (12pm)

We will be holding one hour sessions on each of the 4 topics listed above, so please come along to whichever session or combination of sessions are of interest.

Venue: MindSphere Lounge, The Diamond, University of Sheffield

Air quality monitoring sensors will be deployed around the city, aiming to collect both spatial and temporal high-resolution Air Quality data. We now have the backend data storage and visualisation software and hardware up and running so we want to now turn our attention to the deployment strategy. The sensors will be measuring various air pollutants and meteorological parameters. The first phase of the sensors will be deployed soon around the University of Sheffield. Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the sensors will be deployed in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The objective of the workshop is to seek your input to the deployment strategy for the AQSN, in terms of what we should measure and where we should measure it. At present the deployment strategy is planned to respond to the projects outlined in the attached note. This workshop will review these projects and establish other parameters which should influence the locations and technologies to be deployed.

Come and join us for the final pitching event of the Urban Flows Observatory #sensorbuild competition!

Over the past two months, our nine competition entrants have been building prototypes of sensors that can capture data about how energy and resources flow through the city of Sheffield. They now face our panel of experts for the final pitch event, where they will show their prototype, demonstrate how it will capture data, and present how it could be scaled across the city. For the advanced stream entrants, we will also hear how their product could be commercialised.

Our winners will receive a fantastic prize package including a £500 cash prize, support for commercialisation (advanced stream only), and the chance to see their sensors located in Sheffield.

Each pitch is 2 minutes long and judges have 5 minutes for Q&A. There’ll be an opportunity for you to meet the competition entrants and see their prototypes, as well as vote for your favourite in the Popular Vote category. We’ll be providing pizza and beer, with big thanks to our event sponsors, Arup.

Event Schedule (subject to change)

17:30 – 18:00 Arrival, networking, drinks
18:00 – 18:10 Welcome from Martin Mayfield & intro to judging panel
18:10 – 18:30 Guest speaker keynote: Rick Robinson, Digital Property and Cities Leader, Arup
18:30 – 19:00 Novice pitching
19:00 – 19:30 Break for pizza and beer
19:30 – 20:10 Advanced pitching
20:10 – 20:20 Break for beers and for the panel to convene
20:20 – 20:30 Awards including the popular vote

Judging panel

  • Steve Jubb – Technical Lead, Urban Flows Observatory
  • Mark Gannon – Director, Business Change and Information Solutions at Sheffield City Council
  • Samantha Deakin-Hill, Co-Founder, Campus Capital
  • David Moss, Digital Programme Manager, Siemens Research

**more judges to be announced soon**

Register your attendance here

Urban Flows will be on the road this summer at BlueDot Festival 2018! Join us and the Grantham Centre to find out how tracking flow through the festival site can help us understand how cities work. Try our Virtual Reality headsets, Thermal Cameras, and LIDAR mapping to develop your own real-time data and analysis of the Festival. See you there!

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