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We have wide-ranging research interests in quantitative geography

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Institute for Spatial Data Science

Institute for Spatial Data Science

The Institute for Spatial Data Science focuses on the development and application of data science techniques to address complex spatial, social, environmental, and economic issues. The Institute has evolved from the renowned Centre for Spatial Analysis & Policy (CSAP) and builds on a tradition of innovative spatial analysis to foster fundamental advances in the spatial sciences and conduct applied, policy-related analysis.

By combining theoretical innovation and practical application, the Institute aims to deliver scientific advances that can help to solve real-world challenges and inform decision-making processes at all levels. We work with leading organisations such as the Alan Turing Institute, the Office for National Statistics, the Geospatial Commission, Ordnance Survey, Arup, the Wildland Research Institute and local and national government organisations.

We host innovative masters teaching programmes: the Urban Data Science and Analytics MSc, the Geographical Information Science MSc (online and face-to-face) and we are launching the Environmental Data Science and Analytics MSc in September 2024. These programmes offer lifelong value to students, educating them in the use of cutting-edge spatial data science techniques and equipping them with a critical understanding of how to use scientific approaches to tackle the real-world challenges. We also host a large and diverse cohort of PhD students

Our research

Research at the Institute aims to enhance our understanding of a range of spatial phenomena. We contribute to evidence-based policy making across various sectors, including population dynamics and migration, urban science, health, retailing and consumer behaviour, transportation, crime and environmental sustainability. Our most high-profile work has informed international debates on health inequalities, conflicts between tourism and environmental sustainability, the impact of street networks on spatial cognition, spatial visualisation techniques, real-time modelling and digital twins, and the economic determinants of health.

The Institute also leads in the development of fundamental spatial data science methods and is particularly well known for innovations in microsimulation & agent-based modelling, multi-level modelling, spatially-aware machine learning, demographic estimation and projection, and applications of GISc. We are key partners in major university data science initiatives, including the Consumer Data Research Centre and the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics

Key questions for future societies that our group grapple with include:

  • How can spatially-aware AI approaches help us to reach Net Zero in a way that is fair to all neighbourhoods?
  • What are the implications of population ageing for society and the economy and how will they play out across different regions?
  • What will future cities look like in a post-carbon energy era?
  • How does urban design and structure influence our mobility and movement through space?
  • How can we reduce income inequalities, differences in educational attainment and crime?
  • How can we protect future supplies of basic services such as water, energy, health etc. in a changing world?

Funding and Collaboration

Research at ISDS is fundamentally interdisciplinary, drawing upon the knowledge of experts in geography, data science, statistics, computer science, urban studies, environmental science, public health, and beyond. Most of our funding is awarded by UK Research & Innovation, but we also undertake local and global research in partnership with a number of European, national, regional and local public sector institutions as well as private sector organisations.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss an area of research in more detail please contact: Dr Nicolas Malleson.

Study with us

We  provide education and training appropriate for both academic and commercial worlds. We teach masters programmes and undergraduate modules based on our latest research, enabling students to acquire quantitative skills that are in demand in the real world as well as training for academic research careers. This includes an innovative and very successful distance learning masters course in Geographical Information Science which includes many aspects of spatial analysis and modelling within a GIS environment.