January 24, 2016, by Jason Feehily

Bridge-Building Sino-UK Geospatial Partnerships at The University of Nottingham

It was an eye-opening experience to work with the Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre to deliver the UK-China Workshop on Big Geospatial Data and Smart Cities recently in Ningbo. The Centre is one of only 20 such research collaborations in the world to have been awarded International Joint Research Centre status by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.


The workshop secured support from the UK Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation of China, discussing how the big geospatial data concept could potentially be used for smart transport management within the big cities of the UK and China.

Traffic congestion costs the UK £30bn each year and £14bn of this cost is in London alone! There is an urgent need to develop a cohesive, detailed and comprehensive understanding of urbanisation and public transport systems and to find solutions to the worsening air pollution in the world’s biggest cities.

Jointly with its strategic partners in China, the Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre has successfully delivered two “863” research projects in Shanghai with a focus on R&D on ubiquitous positioning and navigation solutions, big geospatial data acquisition and data processing and analysis. A fuller understanding of essential traffic patterns (such as identifying the changes of 24-hour urban traffic hotspot distribution) through gathering instant road network information from crowd sourced data offered by thousands of GPS-enabled floating cars on the road network, was shared at the workshop.

2Dr Xiaolin Meng, Director of the Centre as well as the chair of the workshop, introduced Large Infrastructure Monitoring in Supporting Sustainable Development of Smart Cities National Remote Sensing Centre of China update on China’s Endeavours on LBS for Improving Social Development Efficiency and its New Market Contributions. The Principal Research Scientist in the Area of Data Science of Ordnance Survey presented on Special Methods and Tools for Geospatial Big Data in the Context of Smart Cities, Tongji University demonstrated Precision Navigation based on 3D Vision by Fusion of Images. We also heard the practices of Solving Urban Challenges with Geospatial Data for transport presented by Innovate UK and Transport Systems Catapult.

3 The breadth and depth of this topic demonstrates how geospatial information can provide strategic and essential support for the sustainable development of society and economy to work smarter and more efficiently, manage logistics, and support informed decisions throughout the economy.




Partnership with China’s rail giant

4During the workshop, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Sir David Greenaway  signed a MoU with China Railway Major Bridge Reconnaissance and Design Institute (BRDI), a subsidiary of China Railway Group, the biggest construction company in Asia. The MoU focussed on a joint project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA). The collaboration aims at promoting Nottingham deformation monitoring solution – GeoSHM in China, the world’s biggest market for the technology. As a result of the agreement, a series of investments will pave the way for further commercialisation of GeoSHM technology, including a direct investment of €600,000 from BRDI to support the second phase of the €2.3m European Space Agency-sponsored project. This initiative is one of many joint projects of more than £20m that the Centre participated in past two years with strategic UK and Chinese partners.

Min Rose

Senior Executive

Asia Business Centre

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