Who we are
The Urban Observatory is a research facility based at Newcastle University.
Urban Sciences Building
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
The university has its own data protection policies which also apply. We operate a number of websites, including www.urbanobservatory.ac.uk. This privacy notice applies to all our services.
How we process your data
Users of our websites and APIs
This applies to all users of our services when they visit our websites, or consume data from our APIs.
- We obtain your IP address when you visit our website, as this is required for us to communicate with your browser. Your browser usually also provides information describing its ‘user agent’, and the site which referred you to the Urban Observatory, if applicable; you can configure your browser to obscure this information without affecting our services. This data is stored within our log files for up to one month to allow us to identify faults in our systems and fix them.
- We ask all users to provide an email address when creating an account. We store this information to allow you to access our services in future, reset your password if necessary, and communicate download links when you've requested data that takes time to prepare. We do not at present use your email address for marketing, and will not do so in future unless you explicitly provide consent. In exceptional circumstances, we may email you if we identify problems with data you have previously requested.
- We store information detailing your requests for data for up to one year, before this data is anonymised for use in our statistics, and to report to our funders.
Data collection at Newcastle Helix
The Newcastle Helix site, formerly known as Science Central, includes buildings with university facilities such as the Urban Sciences Building and The Core.
- The Urban Sciences Building contains approximately 3,000 sensors measuring occupancy, CO2, light levels, temperature, humidity, power consumption, and a wide range of other variables. These sensors provide a means to assess the performance of the building and the way in which it is used. We recognise there are areas of the building, such as offices allocated to a single individual, where these sensors may generate personal data.
- Data from these sensors is retained, but personal data is restricted and unavailable through our API, except for bona fide research which has received ethical approval if necessary, and has implemented measures to protect the data.
- Data is retained for scientific and statistical purposes, for which long baselines are required, hence there is no defined retention period. We do not collect the names or other personal data relating to offices.
Data collection in Newcastle upon Tyne
We operate hundreds of sensors in Newcastle upon Tyne, and the surrounding area. These collect measurements of air quality, meteorological conditions, energy consumption, travel times, and a range of other variables. We do not publish personal data obtained from the city, but are sometimes required to process personal data to obtain anonymised information.
- We obtain data from image processing techniques, such as counting the number of pedestrians in the city centre, the type of vehicles on a road, or a reading of the river level from a gauge board. The data generated from these techniques is always aggregated non-personal data.
- These systems rely on applying machine learning techniques to camera images, which must be supervised by research staff at the university. We record video footage from these cameras for different conditions, to train the algorithms. Once training is complete, the recordings are destroyed or degraded to prevent personal identification. These recordings are not shared unless we are required to do so by law.
- To provide context to other observations, such as poor air quality, we collect low resolution images from the Tyne and Wear Urban Traffic Management and Control camera network. These are still images taken at distance on a schedule, to prevent individual identification. These are accessible through the Urban Observatory CCTV interface. If you have concerns that other data is readily available which may allow an individual to be identified when combined with these images, then please contact us using the procedure below.
Protecting your data
Our primary means of protecting your data is to avoid collecting personal data where possible. This means we regularly anonymise data when it is used for our statistics. Camera images of sufficient resolution to identify individuals are only stored for short durations, as described above, as part of our model training processes.
We will store your data securely within the EEA, and will not share your data unless we are required to do so by law.
Your right to object, access, correct, or remove your data
Please see the details on this page for more information in your legal rights, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for requests to access, rectify, or remove data, and any other right under the Data Protection Act 2018.
You may contact email@example.com for enquiries about how we use our data.