Posts by THINKlab

THINKlab software engineer wins funding and industry recognition

16 October 2018
Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Transport for London

Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Transport for London

Michal Cieciura, a Principal Software Engineer at THINKlab, has recently won a funding application from this year’s 2018 Unreal Development Grants.

The award is part of the larger $5m development grant by Epic Games which was founded in 2015 to help programmers and studios that are developing the Unreal Engine 4.

Michal is one of 37 winners from a variety of teams or individual creators, who received between $5,000 and $50,000 to support the development of their games, tools, broadcast and more.

His winning entry is a Point Cloud Plugin, a free plugin for Unreal Engine 4, which he has created to help with importing, processing and rendering point clouds. Currently, the software is in beta and supports desktop and VR platforms. It is already being used for a number of individuals, commercial and academic projects in architectural visualisation, construction & engineering, games & entertainment and landscape visualisation.

Michal said: “The plugin originated as a simple tool to aid in one of our in-house projects. I decided to make it a little bit more consumer-ready and release it for free on the Unreal Engine Forums. After it received surprisingly positive feedback, I continued improving it and started recording users’ ideas and suggestions for new features. This eventually led to the creation of a streamlined, standalone plugin which it currently is.

There have been many challenges to overcome throughout the work including performance and general handling of the huge data sets the point clouds often come in. It allowed me to acquire a more in-depth understanding of the different parts of the engine, which coincidently benefited other ongoing projects, both personally and in the THINKlab.”

THINKlab Director, Prof Terrence Fernando added: “We are so happy that Michal won this prestigious award from EPIC in recognition of his contribution to the gaming community. This is an indication of the quality of the VR team within the THINKlab.”

Michal was recently invited to an exclusive event in London which was part of Unreal Engine Build:London’18 for Architecture. The event showcased how real-time visualisation technology is being used across the architecture and construction industries, enabling architects and their clients to experience projects in full photographic quality and, if required, in mixed reality. The event took place at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London and included a number of high profile speakers from leading agencies including Zaha Hadid, NVIDIA, Soluis Group, Garou VR and Heatherwick Studio.

Michal is the Principal Software Engineer at THINKlab working in the Enterprise Team. An experienced developer of interactive 3D environments, he has been instrumental in delivering a number of commercial projects for clients including Siemens, Network Rail and the BBC.  Outside of work, his personal interest include virtual reality, computer graphics, game engines and weightlifting!

Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Dr Neil Entwistle, UoS

Point Clouds used for demonstration courtesy of Dr Neil Entwistle, UoS



THINKlab welcomes esteemed Professor, Marie-Christine Therrien

5 October 2018

We are delighted to welcome Professor Marie-Christine Therrien from Montreal’s École Nationale d’administration publique and Cité-ID LivingLab, to the THINKlab for a very special event.

Taking place on Thursday 11 October 2018, Professor Marie-Christine will deliver a unique lecture on “Implementation of Urban Resilience Governance and Social Capital” which focuses on projects in Montreal and London.

Professor Marie-Christine Therrien is a Management Professor at the École Nationale d’administration publique, which is one of the largest public administration universities in the world. Since its creation in 1969, it has positioned itself as a leader in the renewal of a modern and effective public administration in Quebec and overseas. It has set the standard in this field, in both academic and practitioner communities.

As a Director of The Cité-ID Living Lab in Urban Resilience Governance, the organisation is a collaborative initiative that brings together individuals from across Canada and around the world working on urban resilience. It brings together city managers to private enterprises, non-profit organisations, citizens and academic researchers and is an incubator for new inter-sectoral evidence-based approaches and innovative practices in urban resilience.

In the presentation, there will be a discussion on two projects underway.  The first is a project looking at enabling strategies and hindering factors in urban resilience implementation by comparing the cities of Montreal and London.  The second project looks at identifying enabling factors in two Montreal neighbourhoods to develop social capital as a way to increase resilience to disasters.

The event takes place from 11.00am – 12.00pm (inc Q&A session) on Thursday 11 October 2018, in the THINKlab, 7th Floor, Maxwell Building.

If you would like to attend this presentation (open to all) please book in via this Eventbrite link

MOBILISE builds global partnership against natural disasters

10 September 2018
MOBILISE builds global partnership against natural disasters

MOBILISE builds global partnership against natural disasters

THINKlab’s £1.2M research project MOBILISE is developing digital infrastructure to protect communities from natural disasters in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Experts from Salford are working with local agencies to better plan for disasters like floods and earthquakes by exploiting the latest information and communication technologies.

As part of the EPSRC-funded project, the SoBE team have been travelling the globe building partnerships to make the project as effective and sustainable as possible.

Prof Terrance Fernando, Director of THINKlab, recently attended the Director Generals’ Conference in Sri Lanka to agree on an approach to strengthening multi-agency collaboration for disaster risk reduction.


The two-day roundtable conference involved senior government officials who discussed a collective way for implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030).

The conference welcomed the objectives of MOBILISE to create a collaborative multi-agency platform that can be used for building resilient communities in disaster-prone areas, as well as on joint approaches for risk modelling, assessment, mitigation, preparation and response.

The MOBILISE team were also involved in organising several key workshops at this year’s annual Geomatics & Geospatial Technology Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Professor Fernando and Dr Che Zulkhairi Abdullah presented to government, environmental and educational organisations with Terrance also giving a keynote speech on the MOBILISE project and the wider stakeholder engagements in Malaysia.

A larger Director Generals’ Conference is planned for October in Kuala Lumpur and aims to start a collaborative approach for disaster risk reduction in Malaysia.

MOBILISE is also funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund.

Original article:

MOBILISE at the Geomatics & Geospatial Technology Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

29 August 2018
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The MOBILISE project will be involved with organising several key workshops at this year’s annual Geomatics & Geospatial Technology Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Taking place between 3 & 5 September at The Park Royal Hotel, the three-day event will focus on Geospatial and Risk Management.

Professor Terrence Fernando and Dr Che Zulkhairi Abdullah from the University of Salford’s THINKlab will present a workshop on Disaster Risk and Resilience as part of the opening day. Professor Fernando will also chair two further forums, which include senior panelists from government, environmental and educational organisations.

The second day will see Professor Fernando deliver a keynote speech which overviews the MOBILISE project and the wider stakeholder engagements in Sri Lanka. Dr Abdullah will be part of an invited talk to discuss A Concept for Smart City Systems.

The events which support this year’s conference themes will introduce the MOBILISE project to a wider audience, as well as strengthen and update their current understanding. A larger Director Generals’ Conference is planned for October in Kuala Lumpur and aims to start a collaborative approach for disaster risk reduction in Malaysia.

Read more about the Geomatics & Geospatial Technology Conference agenda.

MOBILISE Director Generals’ Conference in Sri Lanka

14 August 2018
MOBILISE Director Generals’ Conference in Sri Lanka

MOBILISE Director Generals’ Conference in Sri Lanka

THINKlab’s £1.2M research project MOBILISE, which is developing a digital infrastructure that can offer intelligence to a range of agencies to work together to reduce the impact of natural disasters on communities, recently held a high profile Director Generals’ Conference in Sri Lanka.

Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the project focuses on Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan and is led by Prof Terrence Fernando. The objective of the event was to agree on an approach to strengthening multi-agency collaboration for disaster risk reduction.

The two-day round table conference involved senior government officials who discussed a collective way for implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) priority one (Understanding Risks) and priority two (Risk Governance).

Held at the Mount Lavinia Hotel on 20 and 21 June 2018, a variety of presentations and panel sessions focused on the nature of a shared disaster risk platform a collaborative multi- agency platform that can be used for building resilient communities in disaster-prone areas, as well as on joint approaches for risk modelling, assessment, mitigation, preparation and response.

Designed as a team building exercise, the first day welcomed senior officials and project partners. Prof Terrence Fernando summarised the project and discussed the aims and objectives, as well as the challenges faced by the three low-middle-income countries.

Day two opened with a discussion on Understanding Disaster Risks with the aim of defining the nature of a multi-agency shared platform for capturing and establishing a common understanding of disaster risks. Prof Fernando presented ideas for creating such a digital platform to capture risk information (one which can establish a mutual understanding of risks and possible interventions for mitigation).

A presentation on a pilot case study was given (set in Kaduwela, Sri Lanka) followed by a discussion on the best ways to establish and prove the feasibility of a multi-agency shared platform in a chosen location.

The final session, Risk Governance, analysed collaborative risk assessment, mitigation, preparation and response using the shared platform. A business scenario was used to present the challenges, possible solutions and value and also the key stakeholders that could install the platform along with the required KPIs. The presentation concluded by looking at a six-step risk assessment currently used in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

The successful event culminated with a unanimous agreement regarding the importance of collaboration and a stated willingness to support the MOBILISE team with developing an advanced digital approach for Sri Lankan disaster risk reduction.

The project team is very grateful to everyone who came together and agreed to support the MOBILISE project in the future. A similar activity will take place in Kuala Lumpur in October 2018 to initiate a collaborative approach for disaster risk reduction in Malaysia.

To understand more about the event and read the full summary, click here.

THINKlab welcomes members the Uscore2 Greater Manchester Peer Review

18 July 2018

THINKlab were delighted to host part of a citywide event for the Uscore2 project and their Portuguese partners.

The final day of a three-day event included meetings, discussion and focus groups. The Amadora peer review team considered ‘Increase Infrastructure Resilience’ (E8a) and ‘Recovery’ (E10) with experts from Salford City Council, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Association for Greater Manchester Authorities, Greater Manchester Resilience Forum, The Environment Agency and Urban Vision.

The Uscore2 project aims to design and test a generic, practical, city-to-city, disaster risk reduction, peer review for European and worldwide members. Salford, Viggiano and Amadora are currently piloting the project. Each has unique disaster risk profiles and are role models for the Making Cities Resilient Campaign.

Following the conclusion of the peer review, the Portuguese team will prepare a report which will help build a larger framework of resilience across Greater Manchester.

Read more about the event and the Uscore2 Project here. 

Seminar: Advancing interdisciplinary disaster risk reduction 7th Dec, 2pm-3pm

17 November 2017

“Advancing interdisciplinary disaster risk reduction”

Thursday 7th December 2017, 14:00 – 15:00

Speaker: Prof. Andrew Collins, Northumbria University
Venue: THINKlab, Maxwell Building, the University of Salford, M5 4WT

THINKlab is pleased to welcome Professor Andrew Collins to deliver a special lecture on “Advancing interdisciplinary disaster risk reduction”.

Andrew is a Professor of Disaster and Development and elected Co-Chair of UK Alliance for Disaster Research (UKADR) ( He also leads the Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes (GADRI).
Andrew’s research interests are the theoretical, methodological and policy aspects of disaster reduction, health ecology, sustainable development, adaptive capacity and human security in contexts of crises. This engages interlinked issues of environment and society, population displacement, risk, governance, education, environmental and disaster management internationally. He has applied this more focally to health, disease and community based strategies. His work responds to demands for societal and scientific rebalancing in changing environments. He advocates addressing hazard, risk, disaster, complex emergency and humanitarianism in an interdisciplinary and cross sector manner emphasising public rights and participation. Overall objectives include moving beyond resilience and survivability to health and wellbeing at multiple levels of disaster or development, including in relation to climate change. Prior to his role from an academic base, Andrew’s orientation in this field had developed through a variety of roles including extended voluntary service in wartime Mozambique. He regularly serves on high level advisory, review and commissioning boards for national and international organisations, conferences and research funding bodies.

For further information please contact Carla Kocsis THINKlab, Facilities Manager or 0161 295 6579.

We hope to see you there.

THINKlab Seminar Series On Local Risk, Response and Resilience Planning 27th October 2017

5 October 2017

THINKlab will be holding Seminar on Local Risk, Response and Resilience Planning 2017/2018 and deliver a special lecture to mark World Disaster Day 2017.

Speakers to include:
Chris Lowther, Chief Fire Officer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
Alan Robson, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

Date: Friday, 27th October, 2017, Time: 11:00-12:00
Venue: THINKlab, Maxwell Building, the University of Salford, M5 4WT


Chris Lowther has an impressive and varied background in training, community safety and operations and has taken a lead role in a number of national resilience programmes. Prior to his appointment to Chief Fire Officer in February 2017, taking up post in April 2017, Chris has held a number of roles within the fire service, including Station Officer for community safety, during which time he was instrumental in introducing home safety checks which have had a significant impact in reducing fires in the home. He sits on the Operations Coordination Committee (OCC); the lead body for Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and was the project executive for the national guidance work on transport. He has led on the introduction of Targeted Response Vehicles (TRVs), day crewing close-call shift patterns, Cobra Coldcut Technology and more efficient methods of staffing appliances whilst facilitating first-class firefighter and emergency response training.

Alan Robson, a Mechanical Engineer, began his fire and rescue service career in 1989. Prior to taking up the post of ACO, Alan was Area Manager for community safety, with responsibility for the control room, operations & resilience, fire safety and prevention & education. This included oversight of our specialist national operational functions – swiftwater rescue (SWR), urban search and rescue (USAR), detection, identification & monitoring (DIM) and high volume pump (HVP) – as well as activities such as our fire cadets and Prince’s Trust programme. He has contributed to the development of operational policy and procedures, organisational reviews and preparation for hosting large events including the recent Olympic and Rugby World Cup events. He is also the current president of the Northern Branch of the Institute of Fire Engineers.

During the inauguration lecture Chris and Alan share their experience, challenges and opportunities on future emergency service delivery through multi agency collaboration.

Click here to register your place.

£1.2m Disaster Research Management Project Secured

28 March 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


2017 THINKlab Conference Schedule

16 March 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.