Posts tagged: University of Salford

THINKlab secures new Disaster Management Project

1 July 2020

The University of Salford THINKlab has been awarded almost £1 million from the UK Research and Innovation Collective Fund to develop an advanced digital platform which can be used by various government agencies and communities to work together to analyse, forecast, visualize and debate disaster risk and to choose development plans that ensure sustainability and equitable resilience which will help guide climate change adaptation and decision making.

This project which aims to promote a participatory approach that supports the transparent and democratic involvement of all the relevant stakeholders (known as TRANSCEND) builds on the THINKlab’s groundbreaking research on digital platforms for sustainable cities and on the disaster community resilience research from the Centre for Disaster Resilience at the University of Salford. It will also include experts from the University of York (UK), University of Moratuwa (Sri Lanka), University of Peshawar (Pakistan), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, thus bringing together their research expertise in social science, urban planning and community engagement.  The project is supported by an international advisory committee and key government organisations such as disaster management centers, urban development authorities and community-based charity organisations.

This project builds on the MOBILISE project, which is another UKRI funded project that has successfully worked with government organisations in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia to develop an advanced technology platform for risk assessment using satellite technologies, drones, sensor data and social information. The new research will take a different approach; rather than focusing on how to manage a disaster, it will look at the urban planning of risk-sensitive areas.


Professor Terrence Fernando, Director of THINKLab said: “The transformation of current urban development and disaster management practices is at the heart of this project. Our challenge in this project is to study how current practices can be transformed by establishing new partnership models and introducing participatory methods that empower vulnerable communities through advanced digital solutions.”

Professor Bingunath Ingirige, Director of the Centre for Disaster Risk Reduction: “TRANSCEND will study the narratives that need to be developed, presented and discussed to establish a comprehensive understanding of the impact of proposed developments on the community, economy and environment.  TRANSCEND will study approaches to communicating the conflicting narratives and discussing the trade-offs that need to be considered in promoting a new form of development practice that is equitable and resilient.”

Dr. Kaushal Keraminiyage, one of the Co-Investigators, said: “There are many examples around the world which indicate that vulnerable communities are facing the consequences of risk insensitive urban development’s firsthand. In TRANSCEND we intend to tap into their knowledge and experience in promoting a risk sensitive urban development strategy.”       

The project will establish three Living Labs in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia creating an ‘Experimentation and Learning Environment’. These Living Labs will involve academic experts and government organisations in co-creating solutions and partnerships to try out new methods and tools to explore a digitally enhanced participatory process for urban development.

The project’s consortium held an initial project launch in Sri Lanka in December 2019 in collaboration with relevant government organisations. The project brings together public and private partnerships between a host of organizations in the UK and in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Key messages and notes:

The University of Salford has been awarded funding of almost £1 million to promote risk-sensitive urban development to reduce the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable communities around the world.

The goal of the project is to transform current “silo” based urban development and risk reduction practices in disaster prone countries (such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia) to a participatory approach that promotes cross-organisational collaboration, openness, adaptability, learning, impartiality, power sharing and public participation.

The project will take a proactive approach by setting up three Living Labs as experimental and learning environments in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia which will work collaboratively with a range of government organisations, NGOs and marginalized communities to transform current practices.

Evidence-based decision making that exploits the power of data, modelling, urban simulation and visualisation is at the heart of this project.

This work is based on the digital expertise in the THINKlab and on the disaster risk reduction expertise within the Centre for Disaster Resilience at the University of Salford.

The funding has been awarded to the research facility THINKlab that undertakes leading research in advanced technology platforms for smart city applications.

The TRANSCEND project builds on the previous GCRF funded MOBILISE project that focused mainly on developing digital capacity for understanding risks and risk governance in disaster-prone areas.

Notes to editors:

* The project is a 3-year programme funded by ESRC and GCRF.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation.

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.

Prof Terrence Fernando presents keynote at Sri Lanka’s prestigious NBRO Annual Research Symposium

16 January 2020

The University of Salford’s THINKlab Director, Professor Terrence Fernando was recently invited by Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organisation (NBRO)  to make a keynote speech at their 10th Annual Research Symposium on Equitable Resilience.

The event took place on 17 and 18 December 2019 at the Hotel Galadari in Colombo and was attended by more than 400 delegates who are involved with disaster risk reduction activities across Sri Lanka. Senior dignitaries included Major General Kamal Gunaratne, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence who was the chief guest, and Trine Jøranli Eskedal, the Ambassador for the Royal Norwegian Embassy who was the guest of honour.

The theme of the symposium was ‘Equitable Resilience’ and Professor Fernando’s keynote speech highlighted the importance of ‘Technology Enhanced Adaptive Governance to Support Equitable Resilience.’ The keynote included findings and recommendations from both the MOBILISE and TRANSCEND projects where Professor Fernando is the Principal Investigator of each project and leads a team of partners in UK, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan. Funded by UKRI (EPSRC, ESRC) and Global Challenges Research Fund, the MOBILISE project focuses on LMIC communities in disaster prone areas who are regularly affected by natural disasters such as flooding, landslides and earthquakes and the TRANSCEND project focuses on risk sensitive urban development and equitable resilience.  

During the symposium, Prof Fernando launched the MOBILISE platform which has been donated to the Disaster Management Centre and NBRO for enhancing the disaster risk reduction and disaster response activities in Sri Lanka.

The two-day event included panel discussions with industry experts and academics who contributed their experiences across the field of disaster reduction. The technical sessions discussed landslide risk reduction and building research which are aligned with the NBRO’s key objectives.

The event was jointly organised by the NRBO, The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), NITTOC Construction, NIPPON KOEI Co, Engineering & Laboratory Services Ltd and the University of Salford as the academic partner.

Further reading:

THINKlab ‘think’ sustainably to receive silver award under national Green Impact Initiative

6 December 2019

This year the THINKlab decided to take part in the Green Impact Initiative; an environmental accreditation scheme which inspires teams to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact. 

Led by the University’s forward-thinking Environmental Sustainability department (which works with university wide teams to identify sustainability issues in their office, laboratory, catering area or grounds) the scheme is a nationally run behavioural change programme set up by the National Union of Students and is recognised by the United Nations.

Teams work through a comprehensive tool kit which gives hints and tips as to how individual teams might challenge perceptions and influence staff to make small and unique changes for a more positive environmental impact. Teams can undertake additional special projects dedicated to their environment and must document their activities so a full audit can be undertaken at the end of the scheme.

With it being the first year, in order to gain a better understanding of the programme and to work through the programme’s toolkit, the THINKlab formed a small staff steering committee to meet monthly and to consider a range of questions and actions in the toolkit’s six key areas; energy and water, waste and recycling, travel, procurement, communications, and health and wellbeing.

As well as simply encouraging staff to take the stairs more often, not leaving computers on overnight, or ensuring that they are using the correct recycling bins, the tool kit also challenged behaviours which might have impacts on wider stakeholders such as minimising meeting handouts, reducing plastic use in the lab, social areas and at events, and communicating ways to travel to the University other than driving.

After submitting the documented work for the toolkit, the THINKlab team met with a team of auditors to speak about their achievements and challenges. The results were announced at an afternoon presentation at the Old Fire Station where the team were presented with a silver award from the Environmental Sustainability team and Lord Keith Bradley (Chair of the University Council and former Member of Parliament).

The Green Impact auditors summarised the THINKlab’s first year involvement: “This team is new for this year and they have made a fantastic start. The auditors thought the team were very passionate about Green Impact and improving the THINKlab’s environmental performance, and that Simon demonstrated evidence of going the extra mile to encourage thoughtful discussions with the team on these issues. The team have encouraged staff to use reusable items and staff regularly have remote meetings with local and international stakeholders, reducing the need for travel. They have also started using the THINKlab Twitter account more actively to raise awareness of their Green Impact work and demonstrate the benefits with their stakeholders.” 

Simon Hadfield, THINKlab Facilities Co-ordinator said: “This is the first year we’ve been involved with the Green Impact Initiative and we’ve made a really great start. After forming our monthly steering group, all our colleagues have really got on board with the different parts of the toolkit and shown their support with making positive changes to reduce both our team and individual carbon footprints. There’s a lot more we can do in the Lab and we’re really excited about demonstrating this further with our different stakeholder groups.”

The University of Salford’s THINKlab donate their MOBILISE digital platform for disaster risk reduction activities in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan

13 November 2019
Prof Terrence Fernando

After intensive research and development work over the last two years, the THINKlab team is now ready to release their first interactive digital platform to disaster management centres in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Sarawak State, Malaysia; and Peshawar, Pakistan.

The donation from the THINKlab is the MOBILISE digital platform which runs on a state-of-the-art multi-touch screen driven by a high-performance computer.  Agencies have the choice of using a web-based interface or a 3D virtual reality interface of the platform to explore and develop their risk reduction strategies. The software created and developed by the XR software engineers, the UX designers and researchers from the THINKlab combines seven main data categories (including built and natural environment, social information, land characteristics, hazards, real-time and remote sensory data) which segment a further 60 data layer and attributes to determine disaster risks.

This digital platform, developed as a part of the MOBILISE project, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and UK Research and Innovation, will allow the disaster management centres to combine various vulnerable, exposure and hazards’ information from multiple agencies to establish a more holistic understanding of their local risks. In turn, this will enable them to work together to develop disaster risk reduction strategies to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the local communities, infrastructure and economy.   

The Director of the THINKlab, Professor Terrence Fernando stated: “It has been a challenging journey for developing a common approach and vision for our partner countries and bringing digital innovation to their current disaster risk reduction and disaster response activities. This is only a beginning of a long journey to transform current disaster risk reduction activities by various government organisations in middle-income countries. We are fortunate to have committed academic partners and government organisations in our project consortium who have worked with us to progress this far.”

Professor Fernando also added: “The feedback from various disaster management agencies and other government agencies has been extremely positive. We hope to make the MOBILISE platform available to other governments around the world very soon. I hope other research organisations will join us for creating bespoke environments for their local governments.”

Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the MOBILISE project focuses on LMIC communities in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan who are regularly affected by natural disasters such as flooding, landslides and earthquakes. 

The MOBILISE platform is targeted at helping various governments to implement the Sendai Framework Priority 1: ‘Understanding Risks’ and Priority 2: ‘Risk Governance,’ as established by the United Nations.

Led by the THINKlab Director, Prof Terrence Fernando, the project is developing a digital infrastructure which offers intelligence to multiple stakeholders who can work together to help reduce the impact of natural disasters on their local communities. Set up in May 2017, the project is to be completed in December 2020. For more information about the MOBILISE project.

The Festival of Research

23 May 2019

The THINKlab: Addressing industry challenges through research, data and digital solutions.

We’re inviting you to learn more about how we’re creating digital solutions and advancing technology in Collaborative Engineering, Digital Cities and Virtual Training Environments. Through partnerships, collaboration and one-off projects, join us to understand more about the research and commercial team and their work which is addressing industry challenges.

Why and how do virtual engineering environments support team collaboration in the aerospace, railway, construction and energy industries and in space exploration?

How can digital city platforms create healthier, wealthier and safer cities?

See how virtual reality training environments exploit the power of gaming technologies to enhance learning through play.

Each event is 1 hour long with a 45-minute presentation followed by discussion. Events take place on Wednesday 19, 26 June, 3 and 10 July. Book your FREE place HERE

THINKlab show the value of VR collaboration at GameLab 2018

18 October 2018

THINKlab show the value of VR collaboration at GameLab 2018

THINKlab show the value of VR collaboration at GameLab 2018

THINKlab’s enterprise team are excited to be exhibiting at this year’s GameLab event, which is part of the annual Manchester Science Festival, 2018.

Taking place at MediaCityUK on Saturday 20 – Sunday 21 October, GameLab is a playground for ideas and brings together developers and industry to showcase new research, products and thought-provoking activities.

Exhibiting on both days, THINKlab will display recent work they have co-created with Siemens UK and the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust. Both projects will demonstrate the possibilities of real-time 3d graphics and how this can be applied in collaborative engineering and interactive learning environments.

Dr Simon Campion, Commercial VR Project Manager said: “We’re thrilled to be taking some of the work we’ve produced with Siemens UK and the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust to the show and we’re really grateful for the opportunity.

For Siemens UK, visitors will be able to walk around an interactive Offshore Electrical Substation in real-time and learn how VR has been utilised from design through to product launch. This device will be using the Oculus Rift Headset offering a fully immersive experience. Don’t get too close to the edge and fall in the water!

The VR application we produced with Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust was really exciting and very unique. To achieve the final application we used digital terrain models, geo-mapping layers and drone and satellite data, to enable the user to experience the entire Upper Mersey Estuary. Areas that are difficult to access or even impossible to reach can now be clearly seen, as well as the local wildlife and ecology.”

THINKlab Director, Prof Terrence Fernando praised recent work projects: “Due to our success with several Innovate UK commercial projects, the Enterprise team has now grown to four VR experts in the THINKlab. This event is a great opportunity for us to showcase the pioneering VR work that the team has produced during the last few years that brought innovation within our industry partner organisations.”

In addition to the THINKlab’s commercial VR projects, the team will also be exhibiting a joint project created with the research team.  The Design4Energy VR application allows users to interactively design an energy efficient neighbourhood including road layout, house positions, placement of solar panels and wind turbines while in the background an algorithm works out how energy efficient the design is.

GameLab is a FREE event and open to all the family. It takes place on Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 October, 11am – 5pm at MediaCityUK campus, University of Salford, Salford Quays, M50 2HE.


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.