UK-CHINA: Designing sustainable services for the new urban population

18 September 2020 Food security

Newton prize China

Cities around the world are struggling to meet the challenge of rapid urban expansion and demographic pressures related to ageing populations. In developing countries economic progress places even greater pressure on vital but under-resourced services such as healthcare and transportation.

One of the most pressing challenges in China and the UK is to provide better services for various urban and rural populations and to allow access to essential resources easily and on a sustainable basis.

This project has brought together over 40 young researchers in related fields from the UK and China to investigate how to apply big data and service design principles to the difficulties people face in cities, affecting their wellbeing and ability to contribute to society and the economy.

Research led to new service designs for urban populations ranging from improved transportation services using big data, to better access and suitability of core services for the elderly. These interventions have also improved awareness of the needs of marginalised parts of society, and enabled elderly and often poor and vulnerable people to remain active in the community.

“Design thinking is a very important method and a tool for solving complex and big systems’ problems. Integrating big data analysis and visualisation techniques into smart service design, delivery and assessment is an excellent roadmap towards solutions.”

Professor Zhang Weihua, Chief Scientist, Southwest Jiaotong University

Transforming service design and big data technologies into sustainable urbanisation

Project leads: Professor Sheng-feng Qin, Northumbria University, UK and Professor Cuixia Ma, Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Delivery partners: British Council, UK and the National Natural Science Foundation of China




Newton Fund

We build research and innovation partnerships with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to support social and economic welfare, tackle global challenges and develop talent and careers.

Global Challenges Research Fund

We help UK and international researchers and innovators address the key issues affecting developing countries.

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