£1.2m Disaster Research Management Project Secured

By Mar.28, 2017

We are delighted to have been successful in securing a £1.2m research grant from EPSRC under the Global Challenges Research Fund to Develop a “Collaborative Multi-agency Platform for Building Resilient Communities”.

The research team from the School of the Built Environment at University of Salford will be led by THINKlab Director Prof. Terrence Fernando with Dr. Chaminda Pathirage and Dr. Udayangani Kulatunga.

This project brings a strong industry partnership from UK including Cabinet Office , 100 Resilient Cities (Rockefeller Foundation), the Environment Agency, Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd, Secure IA Ltd, Telespazio Vega Ltd as well as key high profile government organisations in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan.

The scientific aspect of this project will explore real-time satellite data for constructing 3D environments of a disaster, system dynamics to support cascading effects of disasters, digital platform to assess vulnerability of communities, social media platform for collecting intelligence during disasters and multi-agency collaboration models.  We aim to develop and validate these advanced technology platforms in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan.

Click here to read more about this project

 

 
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2017 THINKlab Conference Schedule

By Mar.16, 2017

 

Conference season is upon us once again!  Detailed below is our schedule for this year:

Smart Cities 2017 – 4th April

In partnership with Salford Professional Development, we will be hosting the 2017 Smart Cities Conference on the 4th April at AJ Bell Stadium

The Smart Cities Conference 2017 will bring together experts from government and industry to give their views on how smart technology can be used to improve the lives of the 45 million people living in the UK’s town and cities. A wide range of topics will be covered providing exclusive insights into how we can transform our urban areas to make them more efficient, more sustainable and safer. These topics will be brought to you by leading minds:

David Ludlow, Associate Professor of Smart Cities, Bristol UWE
Tim Pryce, Associate Director of Programmes Team, The Carbon Trust
Nick Chrissos, Head of Innovation Cisco Technology
Mark Saunders, UK Projects Director Centre of Excellence for Cities, Ferrovial
Chris Nicola, Head of Urban Partnerships, MKTG
Barney Smith, Chief Executive, Bristol is Open
Steve Turner, Associate, Arup
Simon Navin, Programme Manager, Smart Cities Practice, Ordnance Survey

In the North West, Manchester has established a “smart quarter” where established firms can link up with tech start-ups to collaborate and innovate new solutions to the challenges facing the city. The event will explore the growth and potential of creating connected urban areas, using technological investment and forward thinking.

Government Property & Estates – 27th April

Join us for the Government Property and Estates where leading experts will explain how the initiative could help your organisation make significant savings over the next four years. Learn how engaging with the One Public Estate programme can improve services, boost capital receipts and generate economic growth.

Smart Homes & Workplaces – 21st June

“Internet-enabled appliances, home automation components and energy management devices are moving us toward a vision of ‘smart homes’, offering more security and energy efficiency.” – The Internet Society

The internet of things (IoT) and smart technology have the capacity to make our homes more efficient and our workplaces safer. Smart homes can monitor our health and control our energy use while internet enabled censors in the workplace can track stock levels and automatically report building maintenance issues. But with these exciting advances comes a great deal of risk. Critics have suggested that too many of the current IoT enabled devices are vulnerable to cyber-attack while concerns have been raised about the privacy of staff in a workplace capable of monitoring their every move.

Join us for the Smart Homes and Workplaces Conference where leading experts in digital technology will explain how the latest innovations are shaping the buildings we live and work in. See how smarter buildings can connect colleagues and save on utility bills, understand the security risks of a fully integrated home or office and anticipate how houses and businesses can be designed with the future in mind.

Mental Health Facilities & Estates Conference – TBC

“There is clear evidence to show that if you get the environment right, this has benefits not only for people who use care services, but also for their families, friends and staff.” – Professor Martin Green, Care England    

The NHS focuses on parity between mental and physical health, it is essential that healthcare estates adapt and innovate in order to provide a safe and compassionate environment for all patients. As the NHS moves towards a community centred model of care, specialist mental health units must adapt for a new role caring specifically for patients with the most complex mental health conditions. From basic changes to layout and signage to introducing digital innovations such as wearable tech, advanced censors and telehealth initiatives, major innovations are brining mental health estates into the 21st century. Measures must also be taken to ensure that all NHS estates, including hospitals and GP surgeries, are accessible and friendly for patients with varying types of mental health problems.

Join us for the Mental Health Facilities and Estates Conference where leading experts will explain how new innovations are changing the way we care for those with serious mental health conditions. Gain insights into Government health policy, understand how mental health estates can contribute to the aims of the Five Year Forward View and be the first to see the very latest in mental health technology.

 
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THINKlab & Network Rail partnership wins National Construction Excellence Award BIM Project of the Year

By Nov.15, 2016

From left to right: Roy Hickman, Ameet Masania, Terrence Fernando and Fred Mills

From left to right: Roy Hickman Network Rail, Ameet Masania Network Rail, Terrence Fernando THINKlab UoS and Fred Mills B1M

 

Our 4D BIM for Track Renewals Project with Network Rail won a National Construction Excellence Award for BIM Project of the Year!

Judges at Constructing Excellence said the technology “has the potential to be applied across the rail industry both in the UK and internationally and is an “outstanding example of a technology and digital approach being applied to drive better incomes – not just for construction and industry – but for wider society as well.”

The Director of THINKlab, Professor Terrence Fernando said: “We are thrilled to win this prestige national award from the Construction Excellence. We were up against some large organisations, but we managed to win because our innovative IT solution introduced a new way of working to reduce waste and improve efficiency of large railway projects. We hope to build on this success to bring further innovation to the building construction sector.”

Network Rail have recently signed a new contract with the THINKlab to roll the technology out across the country after successful series of trials.

Network Rail had been frequently experiencing programme overruns of its track renewals due to planning errors, costing millions of pounds and causing severe disruption to passengers. It has described the new package as a ‘game-changer’ in network planning, saving them time and money in scheduling upgrades.

The inability to effectively schedule works on complex sites was a major factor in projects overrunning.   THINKlab technologists helped Network Rail create 4-D simulations, meaning the tool can be is used for visualising and scheduling of tasks to the minute over a time period, allowing them to run different scenarios  for pre-work briefings and post-work evaluation.

“I have been planning track renewals for 17 years and this has blown me away,” says Stephen Kearney a site manager for Network Rail. “It’s suitable for small planning schemes as well as major programmes over a number of years.”

Nathan Lord, site manager at S&C South Alliance said the possibilities of the package were “unbelievable” and it gave them the confidence to know their planning for deliver more efficiency at lower cost. Head of Transformation at S&C South Alliance Steve Naybour said “this is a 4D planning package for now that will take us into the future of delivering more”

This is a fantastic achievement and we’d like to express our thanks to everybody who has contributed to its success.

Watch this video to learn more about the project.

 
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THINKlab wins Industry Award

By Aug.10, 2016

DIGITAIMG_1060L technology from the University of Salford is proving a game-changer for the planning of Britain’s rail network upgrades – and a prize-winner!

Network Rail has signed a new contract with the University to roll the technology out across the country after successful series of trials.

The revolutionary 4-D simulation developed with S&C South Alliance, has received a host of plaudits including winning BIM Project of the Year at the North West Regional Construction Awards, held on the 30th June 2016.

The Director of THINKlab at the University of Salford, Professor Terrence Fernando said: “We are thrilled that our long-term contribution to Network Rail’s work is now having a real impact on the business at a national level.

 

Power of digital

“The company are describing the new package as a ‘game-changer’ in rail network planning which really shows the power of digital technology in engineering.”

The inability to effectively schedule works on complex sites was a major factor in projects overrunning. THINKlab technologists helped Network Rail create 4-D simulations, meaning the tool can be is used for visualising and scheduling of tasks to the minute over a time period, allowing them to run different scenarios for pre-work briefings and post-work evaluation._KWE0373

“I have been planning track renewals for 17 years and this has blown me away,” says Stephen Kearney a site manager for Network Rail. “It’s suitable for small planning schemes as well as major programmes over a number of years.”

Nathan Lord, site manager at S&C South Alliance said the possibilities of the package were “unbelievable” and it gave them the confidence to know their planning for deliver more efficiency at lower cost. Head of Transformation at S&C South Alliance Steve Naybour said “this is a 4D planning package for now that will take us into the future of delivering more”

Network Rail has now created a steering committee involving senior staff, to work with THINKlab to ensure the 4D simulation environment becomes an integral part of Network Rail future track renewal programmes.

Project of the Year

Judges at the North West Regional Construction Awards said of the winning project:

“The challenge was clear and unambiguous. The inability to effectively schedule works on complex sites was a major factor in projects overrunning. The development of 4D BIM had not yet been adopted by the rail industry due to the difficulty of using the tools. This innovation uses advancements in gaming technology to bridge the knowledge gap and provide a visualisation system that is easy for multiple stakeholders to understand and has led to dramatic improvements in the ream performance.”

 

THINKlab will now be put forward to the Constructing Excellence National Final, which will take place later in the year.

See how the package works in this company video.

 
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THINKlab Project shortlisted for North West Regional Construction Awards 2016

By Jun.06, 2016

The THINKlab team are delighted that our project with Network Rail on 4D Simulation Environments for Track Renewal Programmes has been shortlisted for North West Regional Construction Awards 2016 – BIM Project of the year.

THINKlab have been working with Network Rail to create a range of real world 3D and 4D simulation modules which can be used to support track renewal programmes. To date this work has included :

  • Design Review Module: To allow teams to collectively explore the emerging designs to avoid any design faults.
  • 4D Simulation Module: To allow the planners to translate 2D schedules into an interactive animation sequence to illustrate deconstruction & construction operations within a given site in 3D.
  • Laser Data Mapper Module: To allow the positioning of laser scanned track data onto a 3D GIS environment and make accurate measurements to support operation and maintenance.

Nick Millington, Project Director at Network Rail said “Senior management have realised the potential for the platform in supporting future track renewal programmes and as a result Network Rail have deployed the simulation environment developed by THINKlab to ten major track renewal programmes across the UK. Through this implementation we hope to deploy this platform as key catalyst to introduce an innovative way of planning future track renewal programmes.”

Network Rail Laser Data Mapper using RILA

Network Rail Laser Data Mapper using RILA

The modules have already been used to support four live track renewal programmes including the West Coast Main Line, Watford Junction, Colton Crossover and Wichnor Crossover.

It has been a great opportunity for the THINKlab team to apply our modelling and visualisation skills in supporting a complex project such as track renewal programmes. This complex simulation environment has been designed and delivered to the Network Rail team within a short period of time and it has now been used to simulate four sites so far.

These modules have replaced the previous planning meetings around a simple whiteboard and now provide an interactive system that allows the teams to navigate the schedules in real time moving between tasks seamlessly in order to brief teams, plan labour, materials and equipment requirements, and to visualise potential scheduling issues.

“The models have assisted the delivery team in the preparation of core works and also have considerable health and safety benefits; they have been well received by all the parties utilising the outputs.”
Basharat Mahfooz, Scheme Project Manager, Network Rail

“Network Rail, working in collaboration with Fugro Raildata and Salford University THINKlab have developed 4D geospatially-accurate modelling designs for today, building a better railway for a better Britain.”
Roy Hickman, Network Rail

“The 4D modelling helped us with the staging of our works, so as to reduce any clashes before we go on site. Without it, we would have incurred additional cost and time in the delivery of the works! It has become an integral tool in the way we deliver railway jobs.”
Ameet Masania, Network Rail

Click here to watch our video demonstrations of the modules.

For more details of our services please email t.fernando@salford.ac.uk

 
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The Future of Smart Cities

By Apr.21, 2016

The United Nations estimates that currently, 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. These parts of our planet are hubs of human ingenuity and efficiency integral to regional economies, but are also responsible for much of earth’s environmental degradation and can be centres for unrest and crime.

With the UN predicting that the proportion of people living in urban areas will account for 66% of human habitation by 2020, the opportunities these places present will grow, and the challenges they pose will only loom larger, as this decade draws to its close. In an attempt to solve the problems inherent to urban life, policy makers are turning to ‘smart cities’, which are harnessing digital and telecommunication technologies for the benefit of inhabitants and businesses.

In the North of England the advantages of smart cities are being utilised to provide the economic growth, infrastructure improvements, emission reductions and crime prevention required to deliver the Government’s ambitious Northern Powerhouse.

 

smartcity-jumbo

 

The potential of smart cities was the subject of a high-level conference entitled ‘The Future of Smart Cities’ #CitieSmart led by THINKlab on the 19th April at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

Delegates - full to capacity

Delegates – full to capacity

The conference was chaired by Prof. Terrence Fernando, Director of THINKlab, who organised the conference with the UoS standalone training company Salford Professional Development, explains: “Smart cities of the future should deploy the power of modern digital technologies to create safer, cleaner and economically prosperous cities for citizens to have an enjoyable quality of life without damaging the environment.

“In this conference, we explored new partnership models, the role of technologies and smart applications to realise this vision.”

 

The conference was opened by Prof. Hisham Elkadi, Dean of the School of the Built Environment.  The one-day gathering was attended by 300+ delegates from both UK and International Industry and academic organisation and featured speakers from SmarterUK, Clicks and Links, Arup, Cisco Systems, OCF, Siemens, Transport for Greater Manchester, the UHSM Academy and Manchester City Council.

Keynote Speaker Dan Byles SmarterUK

Keynote Speaker Dan Byles SmarterUK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The conferences comprised of two keynote speakers, seven main presentations, eight seminars, exhibitions and networking sessions. During the conference, speakers presented the lessons learnt from other smart city projects, technical challenges in developing smart cities as well as how smart cities could help in providing efficient health & social care, energy and transport. There was a common agreement that the smart city should be citizen centric and develop as open system allowing SMEs to develop innovative solutions.

 

Keynote Speaker Gerben Kijne, Clicks & Links

Keynote Speaker Gerben Kijne, Clicks & Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View full programme of speakers at:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-future-of-smart-cities-conference-tickets-21491192736

 

Brochure2

 
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THINKlab: Bringing Rail Data to Life

By Feb.17, 2016

Today Network Rail services carry 50 per cent more passengers than ten years ago, equating to about four million people a day. Passenger numbers have increased at a fast pace and are expected to continue to rise. With demand increasing it is essential to carry out improvements and modernisations with smarter ways of working to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations, without causing major disruption to passengers. Much care needs to be taken in designing and planning major track renewal programmes to keep the disruption to a minimum. One way of minimising such disruption is to use virtual simulation technologies to go through the entire construction process and eliminate any design faults, and check the availability of machines and the validity of the construction sequence while ensuring the health and safety aspects of the workers.

Network Rail Laser Data Mapper using RILA

Network Rail Laser Data Mapper using RILA

Inspired by the virtual simulation and visualisation technology platforms developed by the THINKlab as a part of the EPSRC-funded FIRM project, Network Rail approached the THINKlab team to create a range of real world 3D and 4D simulation modules which can be used to support track renewal programmes. This work included:

  • Design Review Module: To allow teams to collectively explore the emerging designs to avoid any design faults.
  • 4D Simulation Module: To allow the planners to translate 2D schedules into an interactive animation sequence to illustrate deconstruction & construction operations within a given site in 3D.
  • Laser Data Mapper Module: To allow the positioning of laser scanned track data onto a 3D GIS environment and make accurate measurements to support operation and maintenance.

This work has now been used to support four live track renewal programmes including the West Coast Main Line, Watford Junction, Colton Crossover and Wichnor Crossover.

It has been a great opportunity for the THINKlab team to apply our modelling and visualisation skills in supporting a complex project such as track renewal programmes. This complex simulation environment has been designed and delivered to the Network Rail team within a short period of time and it has now been used to simulate four sites so far.

These modules have replaced the previous planning meetings around a simple whiteboard and now provide an interactive system that allows the teams to navigate the schedules in real time moving between tasks seamlessly in order to brief teams, plan labour, materials and equipment requirements, and to visualise potential scheduling issues.

“Senior management have realised the potential for the platform in supporting future track renewal programmes and as a result Network Rail have deployed the simulation environment developed by THINKlab to ten major track renewal programmes across the UK. Through this implementation we hope to deploy this platform as key catalyst to introduce an innovative way of planning future track renewal programmes.”
Nick Millington, Project Director, Network Rail

“The models have assisted the delivery team in the preparation of core works and also have considerable health and safety benefits; they have been well received by all the parties utilising the outputs.”
Basharat Mahfooz, Scheme Project Manager, Network Rail

“Network Rail, working in collaboration with Fugro Raildata and Salford University THINKlab have developed 4D geospatially-accurate modelling designs for today, building a better railway for a better Britain.”
Roy Hickman, Network Rail

“The 4D modelling helped us with the staging of our works, so as to reduce any clashes before we go on site. Without it, we would have incurred additional cost and time in the delivery of the works! It has become an integral tool in the way we deliver railway jobs.”
Ameet Masania, Network Rail

For more details of our services please email t.fernando@salford.ac.uk

 
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Manchester City Council Troubled Families Programme

By Jan.05, 2016

Manchester City Council has been working with with THINKlab & Mirrorworld Technologies Ltd exploring how advanced data visualisation technologies could be used to improve the services to Troubled Families (TF) in the City.

The City Council wished to understand the wider research expertise within the University of Salford that may also provide additional insight and intelligence into the Troubled Families domain. The City Council focused on how to better understand the connections between people and place and place and people across its City footprint.

THINKlab/Mirrorworld developed a Manchester City Council prototype and pilot that comprised a number of elements:

  • Scenario Planning Workshop engaging MCC staff with the ThinkLab/Mirrorworld team to determine TF user requirements, defining a range of scenarios to illustrate how the Platform may be used to represent the epidemiology of troubled families in the City, identifying key sample datasets etc.
  • Planning Workshop with the Troubled Families Steering Group The event served to introduce the Partnership at an early stage in the development of the prototype platform. It provided valuable feedback on partner priorities and stimulated discussion around how this approach – improving the evidence base through integration and visualisation of partner data – may improve the commissioning process and support all partners in working differently to achieve better outcomes for troubled families in the City
  • Joint MCC/Faculty Workshop – this captured a wider multi-disciplinary perspective drawing expertise from a number of the University’s faculties. Key questions explored included underlying drivers which led families to becoming troubled, how can a person affect a place and a place affect a person, and how can we improve our insight and understanding of troubled families. Feedback from the workshop directly contributed to shaping the data mining element of the prototype development and identified a number of research areas linked to TF priorities.
  • Technical Development of the MCC Platform – comprising technical and interface design and associated software engineering to create the prototype platform. All design aspects were informed by the above workshops and utilised sample data from the City Councils iBase system and other social data sources. An interactive platform capable of generate new scenarios from selected datasets to show spatial connections & distribution patterns of TF behaviour in comparison with other key characteristics e.g. incidence and distribution of offending behaviour within TF, showing linkages between incidents of crime & the families who may be involved with each crime incident.

In parallel with the above developments MCC and University of Salford opened up discussions on how best to enable arrangements to support a longer term partnership relationship to align the research capability of University faculties to MCC strategic priorities, opening up new research and collaboration opportunities for both organisations.

Feedback from MCC & their public sector partners including the Manchester Investment Board (MIB) to the TF prototype was very positive & highlighted other policy domains where the technology could potentially add value, including housing, community safety & social cohesion. The wider strategic partnership between Manchester CC & the University of Salford which was established during the prototyping phase has continued to develop.

If your interested in learning more about how advanced data visualisation technolgies can assist your business please contact us so we can discuss your challenges.

Troubled Families Prototype Solution

Troubled Families Prototype Solution

 
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Seasons Greetings

By Dec.22, 2015

All of the team here at THINKlab would like to wish all our friends, colleagues and customers a Merry Christmas and a successful New Year!

We hope you enjoy the festivities and we look forward to working with you all again in 2016!

 

Merry Christmas

 
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Virtual Chernobyl

By Dec.08, 2015

THINKlab have developed a virtual reality experience that allows users to ‘visit’ Chernobyl to see and learn about the animals who live in the radioactive ‘exclusion zone’ in Ukraine and Belarus.

‘Virtual Chernobyl’ helps communicate findings from an ongoing programme of research on the wildlife of Chernobyl, which is being led by Dr Mike Wood from the University of Salford.

Chernobyl has been a no-go area since the nuclear disaster nearly 30 years ago yet many animals from bears and wolves, to elk and wild boar have made it their home and a recent study suggests that large mammal populations in the Zone have increased significantly since the accident.

Dr Wood, Prof Nick Beresford (NERC-CEH) and Prof Andy Miah (Salford) secured funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the University of Salford for an exciting project that capitalises on the University of Salford’s scientific, technical and communication expertise. This public engagement project, “Alienated Life? The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, 30 Years on”, makes the Chernobyl wildlife research accessible to everyone and ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ is a core component of that engagement activity.

“Advances in photographic and acoustic recording techniques mean we are now able to estimate the number of animals by observing them directly rather than looking at their tracks. We have embarked on a project using motion-activated cameras and sound recorders to investigate wildlife in different areas of the exclusion zone and evaluate the influence of radiation on animal populations.  Through ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ people are able to get a real sense of the truly unique Chernobyl environment, from which people have been excluded for nearly 30 years.” Dr. Mike Wood

The Chernobyl wildlife research has been featured on the BBC and Channel 4 News, with ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ being showcased at the Manchester Science Festival, Museum of Science & Industry, various scientific meetings and at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.  ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ has also been used to support research-led undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at Salford.

Watch a video of the interface here

Virtual Chernobyl at Manchester Science Festival 2015

Virtual Chernobyl at Manchester Science Festival 2015

A Brown Bear in Virtual Chernobyl

A Brown Bear in Virtual Chernobyl

 

 

 

 

 

The Virtual Chernobyl interface

The Virtual Chernobyl interface

 

 

 

 

 

 
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