London Data Observatory

The London Data Observatory is a partnership between FoL and the University of Greenwich. The initiative places PhD candidates with FoL members and partners to develop bespoke data science research projects relevant to the host organisation. Research costs will be subsidised by the university, making this an excellent opportunity to access a wide range of expertise and make better use of data at a fraction of the cost.

How does it work?

University staff will work with host organisations to develop a custom three-year research project that will meet their needs. There will be a focus on applied research that is practical and useful for London’s public sector. Partners will work closely with the PhD candidates and get regular updates/briefings on progress.

During the first year of the project, PhD students focus on literature review and project planning; in years two and three, they will work regularly with the host organisation on the chosen project.

Who can apply?

  • All Future of London members and partners can apply
  • Members can apply individually or with one or more partner organisations to address cross-boundary issues and reduce costs
  • Organisations can submit more than one proposal if they relate to different topics

What topics can we investigate?

  • This is up to you! Topics are open to any aspect of your work you feel could be improved by better data.
  • This could include supporting:
    Economic development, employment & skills, environment, fraud detection, housing, demographics, deprivation, finance, procurement, repairs & maintenance, planning, transport … or any other theme of your choice
  • Stuck for inspiration? Browse our recent Smart Cities sessions, or have a read of this handy post from Future Cities Catapult: Nine ideas of where to try data science in city authorities right now
  • Recent research from UoG candidates has included …

How to apply

  • At this stage, we are seeking expressions of interest – you just have to send us an email
  • We’ll connect you with UoG experts to help you develop a project proposal

What costs are there?

The PhD programme costs approx. £60,000 per candidate over three years. UoG is running a scholarship that will meet half of this cost (£30,000), and the other half would be met by project partners. For projects with multiple partners, the costs will be proportionally lower (in a project with four partners, each might contribute £7,500 overall — £2,500 per year).

UoG also has discretionary funding available from the Future Cities Fund. Up to £5,000 is available to support projects, with those that can contribute cash or in-kind match funding prioritised.

What’s the timescale?

It’s open. Dates for the current round are below, but there are opportunities to join throughout the year. If you’re not quite ready now, get in touch – we can get things lined up for a start in 2019.

Current round:

  • Spring 2018 – expressions of interest
  • March-July 2018 – project development
  • Aug-Sept 2018 – candidate recruitment
  • Projects will run three years from Sept 2018-21

Contact: Charli Bristow

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