THINKlab secures new Disaster Management Project

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

The University of Salford’s THINKlab has been awarded almost £1 million from the UK Research and Innovation Collective Fund to develop an advanced digital platform.

The new platform will be used by various government agencies and communities to work together to analyse, forecast, visualize and debate disaster risk.  In addition, it will have the ability to choose development plans that ensure sustainability and equitable resilience which will help guide climate change adaptation and decision making.

The project which aims to promote a participatory approach that supports the transparent and democratic involvement of all the relevant stakeholders (known as TRANSCEND) builds on the THINKlab’s ground-breaking research on digital platforms for sustainable cities and on the disaster community resilience research from the Centre for Disaster Resilience at the University of Salford. 

Also included as part of the project are experts from the University of York, University of Moratuwa (Sri Lanka), University of Peshawar (Pakistan), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and the Universti Teknologi Malaysiathus bringing together their research expertise in social science, urban planning and community engagement.  The TRANSCEND project is supported by an international advisory committee and key government organisations such as disaster management centres, urban development authorities and community-based charity organisations.

This project builds on the success of MOBILISE, another UKRI funded project that has successfully worked with government organisations in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia to develop an advanced technology platform for risk assessment using satellite technologies, drones, sensor data and social information. The new research will take a different approach; rather than focusing on how to manage a disaster, it will look at the urban planning of risk-sensitive areas.

Professor Terrence Fernando, Director of THINKlab said: “The transformation of current urban development and disaster management practices is at the heart of this project. Our challenge in this project is to study how current practices can be transformed by establishing new partnership models and introducing participatory methods that empower vulnerable communities through advanced digital solutions.”

Professor Bingunath Ingirige, Director of the Centre for Disaster Risk Reduction said: “TRANSCEND will study the narratives that need to be developed, presented and discussed to establish a comprehensive understanding of the impact of proposed developments on the community, economy and environment.  TRANSCEND will study approaches to communicating the conflicting narratives and discussing the trade-offs that need to be considered in promoting a new form of development practice that is equitable and resilient.”

Dr. Kaushal Keraminiyage, one of the Co-Investigators, said: “There are many examples around the world which indicate that vulnerable communities are facing the consequences of risk insensitive urban development’s first-hand. In TRANSCEND we intend to tap into their knowledge and experience in promoting a risk sensitive urban development strategy.”       

Three Living Labs will be established - Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia, creating an ‘Experimentation and Learning Environment’. The Labs will involve academic experts and government organisations co-creating solutions and partnerships to try out new methods and tools to explore a digitally enhanced participatory process for urban development.

The project’s consortium held an initial project launch in Sri Lanka in December 2019 in collaboration with relevant government organisations. The project brings together public and private partnerships between a host of organizations in the UK and in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia.


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