Phil James

Project Director

Phil James is director of the Newcastle Urban Observatory and co-leads the National Observatory Programme. His role is the overall management and direction of the observatory programme and generating strategic partnerships with researchers, civic society and industry.

His research is at the intersection of Engineering and Computer Science with a recent focus on IoT and environmental monitoring and how we apply emerging technologies to real-world solutions. He is PI on the EPSRC CORONA (City Observatory Research platfOrm for iNnovation and Analytics) project and participates as Co-I in a research portfolio of interdisciplinary research worth over £15m.

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Jennine Jonczyk

UO and UKCRIC Programme Manager

Jennine Jonczyk works on the strategic development of the Urban Observatory with our internal and external stakeholders; seeks innovation in urban sensing and new ways of ‘visualising’ the city; and works with stakeholders on the co-design of sensor deployment locations to ensure suitability and usability of data. She manages permissions, licences, collaboration and partnership agreements, budgets, sensor planning, and deployment logistics. She also manages the UKCRIC Urban Observatories grant.

She is a water specialist, with a PhD in mitigation methods to reduce diffuse water pollution, and a holistic catchment scientist with over 12 years of experience of environmental monitoring. Jennine is enthusiastic about many things and passionate about beautiful and functional urban drainage!

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Luke Smith

Deputy Director

Luke Smith leads the software engineering at the Urban Observatory, responsible for managing the storage, provision and communications for its billions of observations. He is a trained civil engineer, with a PhD in flood forecasting on supercomputer architectures. Luke’s research interests focus on technologies to integrate modelling and processes across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and novel methods for data visualisation.

His experience includes a decade of programming and systems administration, founder of a company blending geospatial data to create 3D mapping products, and leading projects at the House of Commons, IKEA, British Airways and RBS.

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Neil Harris

Full Stack Software Engineer

Neil Harris was instrumental in establishing the Urban Observatory, as the original and once sole software developer. He developed prototypes for the web front end, database, and communication layer. Neil is now mainly responsible for the web services, creating a responsive web portal, displaying, graphing, and delivering data. He also develops our internal tools for managing data and interrogating sensors.

He graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in Geographical Information Science, and began work at the same school. Before joining the Urban Observatory, he worked on numerous projects, developing web portals and data tools focused around climate science. Before that he was a paperboy.

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Tom Komar

Machine Learning Engineer

Tom's role at Urban Observatory is to develop applications for analysis of sensor data and imagery. Software he builds forms numerous micro-services in the UO stack, and forms parts of the data capture, analysis and presentation systems. Machine Learning methods developed at the Urban Observatory extract quantitative data from imagery, cluster information for efficient time-series management, and highlight suspicious sensor readings. They are used to enrich captured observations, enhance archiving and retrieval of information, and improve data quality for use in research.

Before joining the Urban Observatory he worked in transport modelling and urban planning, where he created travel demand models and urban development simulations.

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Richard Turland

Sensor Engineer

Richard graduated from Newcastle University and began software engineering with BT. After 10 years with BT and a couple travelling in Asia, he worked as a Java and Oracle contractor with BT, Sky, Virgin, NHS, and DHSS.

Seeking change, he spent a year doing voluntary construction work for the Star & Shadow Community cinema, and really enjoyed practical work away from a desk. He joined the Urban Observatory and has been up and down lampposts ever since.

When not ferrying his son’s band, he still volunteers at the cinema. His main interests are gigs, beer, comedy, travel, cycling, hill-walking, climbing lampposts, biscuits, Half Man Half Biscuit.


Stephanie Glendinning

National Observatory Lead

Professor Stephanie Glendinning is lead on observatories for the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), responsible for delivery of the UK National Observatory. She is lead for the urban sciences initiative at Newcastle, focused on the Newcastle Helix site as a hub for full-scale operational infrastructure as a laboratory, in which to develop research and impact.

Her research is primarily concentrated on infrastructure resilience, from material to network scale, using the understanding of the underpinning science to inform performance models, data needs and business models. She is lead on the £4.8M programme grant ACHILLES (Assessment, Costing and enHancement of long lIfe, Long Linear assEtS).


Richard Dawson

Newcastle UKCRIC Lead

Professor Richard Dawson is a co-lead of the Newcastle Urban Observatory and Newcastle’s overall lead for UKCRIC (UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities). A civil engineer by background, his research focuses on understanding environmental risks to cities and infrastructure.

He is using the UO’s unique scale and resolution of observation to understand resilience to extreme events, infrastructure performance and deterioration, and the interdependencies between infrastructure. This will ultimately create a ‘digital twin’, a virtual replica of the city to aid planning and understand long term change.

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Rajiv Ranjan

Research Director (Computer Science)

Prof Ranjan is a Professor of IoT and directs applied research in the field of computer science utilising the real-world IoT systems and infrastructure of the Urban Observatory platform and data. Research fields include IoT optimisation, simulation of large scale IoT systems, security and osmotic computing from the edge to the cloud.


Tim Rodaway

Postgraduate Researcher

Tim’s role as a postgraduate researcher in the Urban Observatory is researching the integration of mutli-scale IoT monitoring systems into a combined, secure observation and modelling system. His specific focus is on people monitoring in transitional spaces, including using computer vision analysis. He is utilising his work in various research projects relating to COVID-19, to understand interactions between people in a secure, privacy-preserving manner.

His background is in Geographic Information Science, having graduated from Newcastle University in this subject in 2018, before coming to undertake a PhD working with the Urban Observatory. His PhD is also sponsored by Ordnance Survey, where he can occasionally be found on placement. Outside of work he can often be found playing in various bands, or getting involved and volunteering in scouting.

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Daniel Bell

Research Assistant

Daniel’s role within the Urban Observatory is to develop standardised and scalable toolkits for the deployment and maintenance of open access real-time IoT services. As part of this, he also develops framework guidelines, operating principles and enabling tools to coordinate the sharing of real-time municipal data.

He has a background in surveying and mapping science. In addition to conventional geospatial practices, he uses data science and machine learning for urban analytics and smart-city network applications. Daniel's MPhil research concentrated on analysing road traffic flows from monocular camera sensors using automated computer vision techniques. His prior industry experience includes being a software Systems and Training Officer for Nexus Tyne and Wear Metro on behalf of Newcastle University. Playing guitar is his go-to activity outside of work, as well as escaping to warmer climates than the North East.



Dave Pearson

Yvonne Hübner

Miles Clement

Aare Puussaar

Get in touch

Call Jennine on 0191 208 8599

or email with "Research" in the subject

Get in touch

email with "Sense_my_street" in the subject