York City Environment Observatory (YCEO): Understanding How the Total Environment Affects the Health, Wellbeing and Equity of City Populations

Departments: Stockholm Environment Institute-YorkSociologyElectronic EngineeringHealth SciencesHistory

Project Directors: Prof Alistair Boxall (Environment) and Ian Cunningham (Shared Intelligence Bureau Group Manager, City of York Council)

Co-Investigators: Dr Steve Cinderby, Dr Darren Reed, Dr Damian Murphy, Prof Karen Bloor, Prof Sarah Rees-Jones, Dr Daryl Martin

The aim of the York City Environment Observatory (YCEO) project is to establish York as an exemplar city for better understanding the links between the quality of the natural, cultural, social and built environments (the ‘total environment’) and the health and wellbeing of citizens and the economy of the city. The YCEO will employ cutting-edge monitoring and data analytic technologies to provide intelligence to allow informed decisions to be made on the design and management of the city and surrounding environments.

Around half of the world’s population living in urban areas and latest figures predict that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will live in cities. If not managed adequately, urbanisation can adversely affect the health and wellbeing of city populations, compromise natural capital and impact on the local economy. The overall aim of this Urban Living Partnership pilot project, jointly led by the City of York Council and the University of York, is to design and lay the groundwork for establishing a unique city observatory for determining the links between environmental quality issues in York in order to better understand how these issues affect health, wellbeing and the economy of the city.

The project will look to the past, present and future in trying to diagnose and predict environmental issues for York and their associated human health and wellbeing and economic impacts. The pilot phase of the YCEO will integrate and analyse data on York that have never before been explored – allowing truly novel insights on key urban living challenges. This holistic approach will provide a step-change in making the city safer, smarter, more integrated and sustainable – ultimately resulting in a huge net-benefit for residents, businesses, community groups and local government in terms of increased economic output and health and wellbeing improvements.

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