Colouring Cities Research Programme


The Colouring Cities Research Programme (CCRP) develops open code for open, reproducible platforms that collect, verify and visualise data on national building stocks.

View the Project on GitHub

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The Colouring Cities Research Programme (CCRP) is an open knoweldge initiative that designs and tests open-source tools to facilitate data sharing on national building stocks. The programme brings together knowledge held across countries, within academia, industry, government, the third sector, and communities, and across science, technology, the humanities and the arts, to help society collectively solve complex urban problems. The CCRP does this through the co-creation and collaborative management of research-led, networked open data platforms that visualise and release open data on the composition, performance, and dynamic behaviour of the building stock.


The CCRP is a branded research programme that enables international academic institutions to pool knowledge and resources, and co-develop and test open-source code for Colouring Cities open data platforms. Over 100 researchers worldwide have contributed to the project to date. The CCRP is managed by the Alan Turing Institute (the UK’s National Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence), and builds on the conviction of the computer science and AI pioneer, Alan Turing, 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 initiative was previously based at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London where the Colouring London prototype was first built. CCRP open code are currently being developed in collaboration with academic partners in Australia, Bahrain, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Lebanon and Sweden.

Owing to increasing interest in the CCRP, self-managing CCRP Global Region Hubs (GRHs) are now being explored to encourage wider academic participation and to stimulate interdisciplinary/cross sector collaboration, impact and innovation. Strategies for CCRP global hub rollout are guided by the CCRP’s International Academic Steering Group. This is an informal collaboration of CCRP academic partners actively involved in hub development. The Group is chaired by the Alan turing Institute and involves representatives from the City Futures Research Center, University of New South Wales (Colouring Australia/Asia Pacific hub); the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities at Concordia University (Colouring Canada/North American hub); and the Research Data Centre at the Leibniz institute for Ecological & Urban Regional Development (Colouring Germany/Europen hub).

Mission statement

Colouring Cities platforms are designed to:

How CCRP platforms work

CCRP platforms are run independently at country level by academic partners but follow a common set of protocols. Partners also oversee the development of collaborative maintenance frameworks for databases (as used in Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap) encouraging engagement from academia, government, industry, the third sector and citizens. 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, and the CCRP Open Manual released under an MIT License.

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Colouring Cities platforms use digital building footprints - of the highest quality, openness and geographic cover 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. 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. Disciplines represented by CCRP academic partners include: data science, computer science, 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, GIS and spatial data visualisation. Ethical use of building level footprints and the identification of security and privacy concerns relating to the visualisation and release of building attribute data form key areas of CCRP work.

CCRP categories are visually grouped into a 12 category grid shown below, to maximise data accessibility for all audience groups. Each Colouring Cities platform is set up to collect, collate, visualise, verify, enrich and release data for over 100 spatial building attributes. Attribute selection is based on: analysis of academic literature relating to sustainability science, urban science, resilience analysis and urban complexity; stakeholder and international consultation on the Colouring London prototype (2015-19) and public and stakeholder feedback at UK level following platform testing. New datasets are added/collected in consultation with CCRP academic partners with each assessed for risk of negative impact on building occupiers. 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 professional 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 use of verification tools.

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The CCRP is a research-led programme designed to bring together researchers with similar research interests and values from across the globe. The CCRP works to provide a welcoming and stimulating space in which ideas and data can be shared. As well as operating within ethical frameworks set by individual research institutions, all CCRP partners sign up to its ethical framework and protocols. CCCP partners use identical interfaces and main data category keypads to maximise clarity and interoperability of systems, to maintain programme and platform quality, and to maximise user trust. This is particularly important as software developer/engineers are actively encouraged to experiment with CCRP open code, and data are released with permission for third party use. 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.

CCRP academic partners can be identified by their inclusion on this page, and on the Alan Turing Institute CCRP webpage. No other applications of Colouring Cities open code, interface design or logo are endorsed. Information on CCRP resources provided by The Alan Turing Institute for partners can be found here.

All CCRP platforms are at different stages of development. Information on current academic partners and platform links (where available) are provided below. Discussions regarding CCRP platform set-up are also underway with academic institutions in Peru, the Philippines, Switzerland, Japan, India and Bangladesh.

Colouring Australia

Colouring Bahrain

Colouring Canada

Colouring Britain/Colouring London prototype

Colouring Colombia

Colouring Germany

Colouring Greece

Colouring Indonesia

Colouring Lebanon.

Colouring Sweden

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 If you would like to discuss collaboration at country level with a specific Colouring Cities partner please contact the Principal Investigator for the country in question. Details may be found in Section M of the CCRP Open Manual.