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Update: The YCEO

By 2050, 66% of the world’s population will live in cities, and it has long been recognised that the totality of this urban environment – made up of a complex combination of natural, built, cultural and social factors – has a powerful impact on the health and well-being of individual citizens as well as the economic prosperity of cities themselves.

The York City Environment Observatory (YCEO) aims to establish York as an exemplar city for better understanding the links between the quality of the environment and the health and well-being of citizens and the economy of the city. Using this understanding, we aim to support evidence-based decision-making on how we design, manage, use and interact with our environment. The YCEO project is led by the University of York and City of York Council. It also involves a number of collaborating organisations and partners from a range of sectors including businesses, local government, national agencies and research institutes.

During this pilot phase, we have engaged with over a hundred York residents to understand what environmental themes and questions are most important to them. We have also carried out a data audit, identifying the types of data that would be needed to support effective decision-making in relation to the environment and health and well-being. This involved identifying whether this data currently exists, and exploring possible innovative future techniques for collecting data (e.g. sensor networks). The third part of our project focused on making information that is crucial to evidence-based decision-making available. We have achieved this through the creation and continued growth of the YCEO York Open Data site (yceo.org.uk), which contains almost one thousand openly-accessible datasets relating to the environment and health and well-being. The final part of this pilot phase project has been the initial scoping of an analytical framework that would support the development of a decision-support tool – YorDecision – that would allow users to draw on disparate data sources to answer their specific questions. This tool would use innovative data-analysis technologies to draw on the available information to produce a user-friendly output that facilitates evidence-based decision-making (e.g. as a website, mobile device app, or report etc).

Moving into the future, we are keen to continue to use and further the outputs of our pilot phase to maximise health & well-being by supporting decision-making across a range of scales and users.

This research was funded by Research Councils UK and Innovate UK as part of the Urban Living Partnership.

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Published by: City of York Council

Date: 8th March 2018