The Colouring Cities Research Programme (CCRP) develops open code for open, reproducible platforms that collect, verify and visualise data on national building stocks.
The Colouring Cities Research Programme (CCRP) designs and tests open-source tools that facilitate knowledge and data sharing on national building stocks. The CCRP is run by the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s National Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. The Turing’s purpose is to make great leaps in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) research to change the world for the better.
Alan Turing argued that “the isolated individual does not develop any intellectual power …The search for new techniques must be regarded as carried out by the human community as a whole, rather than by individuals”. The CCRP programme brings together knowledge from across countries, held within communities, academia, industry, government and the third sector, and within science and technology, the humanities and the arts, to help solve complex urban problems. It does this by facilitating the co-creation of open data platforms that map data, at building level, on the composition, performance, and dynamic behaviour of building stocks.
Colouring Cities platforms are designed to:
The CCRP is a branded research programme that enables international academic institutions involved in building stock research, and research software engineering, to pool knowledge, and co-develop and test open-source code for Colouring Cities platforms. Over 45 academics currently collaborate on the project across nine countries. Each CCRP platform is managed by academic partners at country level, and each follows an agreed set of protocols drafted by the Alan Turing Institute. Academic partners coordinate research funding at national level and oversee collaborative maintenance frameworks- as pioneered by the open data movement-to facilitate stakeholder engagement in adding, updating and verifying data. CCRP core code, and additional country specific code, are released under a GNU General Public License via GitHub. CCRP building attribute datasets are released via individual international platforms under an Open Data Commons Open Database License. The CCRP Open Manual is being developed under an MIT License.
Colouring Cities platforms use digital building footprints, of the highest quality, openness and geographic coverage available within each country, as their basic building block. As well as providing information on the shape and size of buildings, footprints act as mini filing cabinets allowing information to be easily captured, collated, verified and visualised. Live co-creation of beautiful maps through the colouring-in of footprints by community collaborators forms a key feature of platform design.
Each Colouring Cities platform is designed to collect, collate, visualise, verify, enrich and release over 120 standardised categories of spatial building attribute data. CCRP categories are visually grouped into a 12-subject area grid, which doubles as the CCRP logo, to maximise accessibility. Selection of subcategories is based on analysis of academic papers relating to sustainability science, urban science, resilience analysis and urban complexity, UK stakeholder consultation on the Colouring London prototype (2015-19), international partner consultation and live platform testing. New subcategories are added in consultation with CCRP academic partners. Four data capture methods are experimented with: bulk upload of open public datasets, live streaming from public sources, computational generation using inference and crowdsourcing from citizens and experts at building level. Through this process issues such as data fragmentation, incompleteness, inaccessibility, aggregation, inconsistency, security and privacy are explored and addressed. Data accuracy is maximised through feedback loops between data capture methods, and verification tools.
The CCRP looks to harness as much information on buildings as possible from professionals involved in their design, construction, management, monitoring, conservation, and retrofitting, from citizens and civic societies, and from diverse academic disciplines and research programmes. It also brings together international academic institutions involved in research impacting on building stock sustainability and resilience to co-work on platform design. Disciplines represented by CCRP academic partners include: data science, computer science and software engineering, urban science, industrial ecology, urban morphology, physics, environmental science, material science, climate change & resilience studies, building construction, engineering, conservation, housing, planning, architecture, history, architectural history, graphic design and colour theory, open data systems and principles, data ethics, artificial intelligence (including machine learning & computer vision), procedural modelling, the mathematics of cities, GIS and spatial data visualisation.
CCRP is a research-led programme comprised of an informal consortium of academic partners with similar research interests and values. As well as operating within research and ethics frameworks set out by individual institutions, all partners sign up to CCRP’s protocols. CCCP partners use identical interfaces and main data category keypads to maximise clarity and interoperability of systems, and CCRP academic branding is tightly controlled to maintain programme and platform quality, and to maximise user trust. This particularly important as all interested software developer/engineers are actively encouraged to experiment with CCRP open code. Clear visual branding is also necessary to allow the purpose, principles, and quality of CCRP platforms to be instantly understood regardless of which country a Colouring Cities platform is operating in. Where platforms differ is in additional subcategory inclusion relevant to national/regional contexts, open-source code for which is also available within the CCRP GitHub repository.
The CCRP also works to provide a welcoming and stimulating space in which international researchers wishing can co-design and test Colouring Cities platforms to the highest standards to support application of captured data in many areas of socio-economic and environmental research, and to ensure ethical considerations are prioritised. Improvements to the governance model, protocols, back and front end design, and to content are ongoing and incremental, and build on partner findings. CCRP research partners can be identified by their exclusive use of the Colouring Cities logo, and their inclusion on this page, and on the Alan Turing Institute CCRP webpage. No other applications of Colouring Cities code, interface design or logo are endorsed by the Alan Turing Institute. Information on CCRP resources provided by The Alan Turing Institute can be found here.
All CCRP platforms are at different stages of development. Information on current CCRP academic partners and live platform links (where available) are provided below. Discussions regarding Colouring Cities platform set-up are also underway with academic institutions in Switzerland, Japan, India and Bangladesh.
As the number of countries involved in the CCRP expands, self-managing Global Region Hubs will be set-up and co-ordinated by interested academic partners/academic consortia in order to maximise help-in-kind support for participating institutions at global region level, and to help to encourage and track use of CCRP data in diverse areas of socio-economic and environmental research. Regional hubs are currently being developed, based on location and also on time zone. Hubs below will likely need to subdivided as new countries come on board.
Two models for country level academic networks, designed to provide trusted data moderation and drive high quality data uploads at regional scale, are currently being tested in Australia and the UK.
For more information on different aspects of the Colouring Cities programme please also see our CCRP Open Manual.
If you are an academic institution involved in research into stock sustainability and resilience, and would like to discuss joining the Colouring Cities Research Programme, please contact Polly Hudson at The Alan Turing Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to discuss collaboration with an existing Colouring Cities partner please contact the Principal Investigator, details for which may be found on individual countries’ information pages in our Open Manual.