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Data visualisation and behavioural research

New facilities in Behavioural Research and Data Visualisation are set to add to our research strengths.

As part of the recent redevelopment of our School we were awarded £9.7m by Research England to further support our research base. The funding has gone towards the construction of two new facilities, one in Behavioural Research, and the other in Data Visualisation.

Data Visualisation

Our new 3D, large-scale visualisation facility is the new home of data-driven research, engagement and teaching activities at The University of Manchester. It will provide a way for us to visualise data on a huge scale via 72 full HD screens, and will help to develop new insights into data and models.

The possible uses for the new observatory are endless, from visualising huge data sets across all areas of research at The University, to simulating digitised processes in industry, or visualising monetary flows in fintech, for example. Nikolay Mehandjiev, Professor of Enterprise Information Systems, said the School’s work with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) was a perfect example of where the new laboratory would have major benefits.

“We have been working with TfGM since about 2010 on various projects around AI learning and air quality, looking at how you balance traffic flows by controlling routes and how can you make use of real-time information to reduce pollution levels. So the laboratory will enable us to develop simulation models and create a visual dashboard using real time data. It will also help us analyse various interventions for controlling traffic flows."

Professor Mehandjiev added that the drive towards Industry 4.0 and simulating the movement of goods within factories to deal with increasing mass personalisation was another area where the laboratory would bring major benefits.

“Factory managers will be able to immerse themselves in 3D simulation as they deal with the increasingly challenging environment of processing more and more personalised goods. Today you increasingly find that the order mix in factories can change hour by hour.”

Behavioural Research

Over the last generation developments in behavioural sciences have revolutionised our ability to understand and change human behaviour. Integrating psychological insights into existing disciplines has created entire new fields such as behavioural economics, behavioural finance, and behavioural strategy.

To capitalise on this growth The University of Manchester has already made several key investments in behavioural science, through a range of individual appointments and strategic investments in research groups.

Our new laboratory will provide a high-quality, dedicated facility for conducting laboratory experiments, and will focus uniquely on the interface of management, economics, and political science. The investment will not only boost our capability for leading-edge behavioural research, but also provide a platform for greater collaboration with practitioners and policymakers.

One of the specific rooms in the laboratory will be for eye tracking studies, containing workstations and specialist eye tracking equipment. The room will also double as a facility for computer mediated communication experiments, or where it is important to control the external environment as far as possible.