The Urban Flows Observatory would like to give YOU the opportunity to help us learn more about the cities we live in. Cities contain loads of useful information about various things including air quality, pollution, energy and resources.

We’re giving away a whopping £4,000 worth of equipment to help you to create, build and test a model that will help us to understand and collect information in these areas so that we can learn more about our surroundings and how we can help to make our cities more sustainable for future generations.

We’re looking for creative ideas from anyone who has an interest in making, creating and building things! This competition is open to anyone of any age from anywhere, all we ask is that your sensor can be physically placed in Sheffield.

Your idea should be able to collect information that contributes to one or more of these areas:

  • Air quality and atmospheric conditions
  • Energy consumption, efficiency and sustainability
  • Health and wellbeing

Your model must be able to monitor the energy and resource flows and transmit information to the urban flows observatory so that we can use this to help us understand more about our planet. We will also be looking for ideas that have the potential to be made bigger and even commercialised, turning ideas into profit. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to contribute to a major project in the UK that will receive nationwide acclaim and press coverage!

Your sensor doesn’t have to be anything fancy as we appreciate that not everyone has the same level of familiarity with technology or have the same level of skill in engineering products which is why we have come up with two different categories for entries:

  1. Advanced – if you have built a sensor before, or already have quite a bit of knowledge on kits such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino etc) then this category is for you.
  2. Novice – If however, you’re like me and you have very little knowledge in this area but are still interested in making some cool stuff then you can enter via this category.

So at this stage you’re probably wondering what’s in it for me…? We have some fantastic prizes on offer thanks to our sponsors Autodesk, Siemens, Sheffield Tech Parks and the University of Sheffield Enterprise team who have kindly helped us put together an amazing prize package worth £2,000. This includes loads of mentoring opportunities and support so if you’re really passionate about making things, but need a little help, we can point you in the right direction. Not only that, there is the opportunity to win £500 cash!

That leads me on to the next question.. How do you enter?

Once you have an idea in mind, it’s time to put it down on paper. The application form can be downloaded here along with a spreadsheet of all the equipment you will need to make your sensor as well as the costs. Remember you have up to £4,000 to turn your idea into reality should you be lucky enough to make it through to the next stage. Submit your applications to The deadline for this is Friday 16th February.  At least 2 finalists will be selected from each theme to go on to build their sensor.

The best entries will be contacted at the end of February and we will get on with buying all your desired kit. Once you have all the stuff you need, you will be given until Friday 18th May to build your sensor. These will then be judged by our panel of experts and a winner announced at our Showcase Event towards the end of May (we will be in touch with a confirmed date soon).

So if you’d like to take part, all you have to do is download the application form and we’ll take it from there! We excited to see what novel ideas you can come up with. If you have any questions in the meantime you can email us  And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter! @Urbanflowsobs.

Bye for now!

Urban Flows