Newcastle is a science city: Living Lab and the gene team

Posted on January 31, 2014


NSC plan

Newcastle’s Science Central is expected to be the focal point for a new urban concept of integrating science and business into the city centre. Planned as a complex that will include apartments and leisure facilities, it will be populated by academics from the nearby universities and regional entrepreneurs. Some of the technology on show at the site includes a look at alternative power sources such as geothermal energy – looked at in this WeLove Digital post – and now a ‘smart city’ project called Living Lab.

An urban observatory: ooh, aren't they swish!

An urban observatory: ooh, aren’t they swish!

Living Lab will be a £50 million, 10,000 square metre research facility combining social data from sensors based around the city to aid real-time decision making. An example of this is the Urban Observatory which will pull in data on air quality, weather conditions and traffic flow to help road users. A university transport research team is working with the Urban Traffic Management Control Centre to investigate in-vehicle navigation systems that can warn drivers about traffic problems or dangers ahead. Pollution sensors will map air quality around the city and re-direct traffic to reduce any build up of pollution. Happier healthier city all round.

Cloud vision
Data will be crunched at the £2 million Cloud Computing Centre housed within the Digital Tower – which will be the new home for the University of Newcastle’s School of Computing Science and Digital Institute at Science Central. Professor Paul Watson, director of Newcastle University’s Digital Institute, said: “The Cloud Centre offers us a unique opportunity to understand the footprint of the city in terms of energy use, the movement of people and environmental impact and use this to inform future infrastructure so the city moves more freely and more efficiently.”

Dynamic trio
Planners say the entire research facility will be complete by 2017, but the research projects already underway include the £3.5 million i-BUILD Centre, which will examine the economic, social and environmental connections between water, transport, energy, waste and digital technology systems.

A £2 million grid-scale energy storage project, led by Professor Phil Taylor, will develop technologies for smart grids and power storage.

Finally, the £1.3 million MyPLACE project will allow the public to get more actively involved with local councils in urban planning and design. Professor Peter Wright will lead MyPLACE in collaboration with Newcastle’s Age Friendly city initiative and councils across the north east.

News: Genes are us
Growing DNA testing company NorthGene has expanded its portfolio from paternity, maternity and sibling tests in legal and forensic cases to take in immigration applications and court directed cases. Immigration tests are requested under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act where family relationships are in dispute or need to be proven.

Founded in 1996 by Professor Sir John Burn, an internationally renowned human genetics specialist and medical consultant, NorthGene was one of the UK’s first commercial DNA testing companies. Based at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle, the company carries out legal DNA testing for coroners, solicitors, local councils and the general public, alongside additional drug and alcohol testing and cell line verification services for research and clinical laboratories.