School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Professor Philip James

Professor of Urban Data



I joined the then Department of Surveying in 1995 as a Systems Programmer and IT advisor.  Previously I had worked at Nissan as a Software Developer writing in-house system software and participating in the development of 3D Cad.  I have continued to focus on the development of systems and software in the geospatial field.  My research interests include:

  • The internet of things - specifically geosensors and embedded sensors and their incorporation into the geo-information stream
  • Next generation analytics - the application of real-time data and spatial data to facilitate near real-time processing, modelling, simulation and prediction
  • Spatial data management in traditional relational systems and NoSQL type structures 

I work closely with many different groups in the University including Engineering, Computer Science, Agriculture and the social sciences.

Roles and Responsibilities

I lead the Urban Observatory Programme in the University and co-lead the national UKCRIC observatory programme through the CORONA project.  I lead the Smart CIties theme within the £4.9m Pitch-IN project removing barriers to the uptake of the Internet of Things.

I am deputy DPD for the Geomatics UG degrees

I head up the Geoinformatics Group as part of the Digital Research Institute


BA (Hons) Japanese (Newcastle, 1991) 

Industrial Experience

I work closely with a large number of industrial stakeholders including Northumbria Water, Siemens, the Ordnance Survey, the Environment Agency and others.  Through the Observatory programme we work with national and local stakeholders including the combined authorities.

Google Scholar: Click here.


Research Interests 

I am interested in all aspects of data management.  I have an abiding interest in maps, mapping and spatial data systems and the development of information systems (primarily on the web) and fundamental research in the fusion and integration of data for analytics and visualisation.  I currently lead the Urban Observatory programme in Newcastle, a multi-million pound investment in sensing infrastructure providing millions of observations about the city.  I am interested in managing and developing big data systems and developing novel ways of integrating data for research and enabling data access in a variety of ways.  I am developing new systems to understand how smart cities could and should operate both at a technical level but also through citizen participation and governance and sustainability processes.

Postgraduate Supervision 

I currently supervise 13 PGRs across 3 schools.  I am active participant in the Digital Civics CDT, the cloud computiing and big data CDT and DREAM DTC.

Kaizer Moreiri - developing novel systems for integrating VGI into land management systems
Aare Puusaar - investigating how digital technologies and data can be used by communities to provide actionable information.  Aare is developing the SenseMyStreet project with OpenLab.
Top Phengsuwan - developing big data systems to integrate multiple data streams of high velocity real-time data with a focus on natural hazards
Nipun Balan - investigating big data frameworks for natural hazard modelling
Kelsey Potlock - investigating novel means of acoustic identification of cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) for impact assessment of wind farm developments
Sarah Kenney - developing flexible data and visualisation platforms for integrated monitoring of offshore wind farms
Jonathan Law - investigating the statistical properties of large scale environmental monitoring data sets.
Yonatan Shahar - investigating novel spatial database systems for precision agriculture
Claudio Piccinini - investigating spatial decision support support systems for viniculture
Fulvio Lupane - investigating resilient infrastructure networks for optimisation of resource location in floods
Tom Gilbert - developing modelling techniques for integrating indoor and outdoor spaces for seamless city modelling
Qingyuan Ji - developing a city modelling frameworks for high resolution topological and infrastructure analysis
Joe Parker - investigating large scale environmental data and risk in cities.


Gobe Hobona, Sanphet Chunithipaisan, Pannee Cheewinsiriwat, Aengus McCullough, Macarena Rodrigues, Javier Urquizo, Craig Robson.

Esteem Indicators

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
Program Vice Chair IEEE International Conference on Smart Cities and Informatizatuon (ISCi)
Chartered Geographer (CGEOG/GIS)
Reviewer EPSRC Standard Proposals
Organiser, international visit to Argonne Labs, Chicago University Urban Big Data Centre
Co-convenor and organiser International Urban Living Labs Symposium, Newcastle
EEO/AGI(S) Professional Seminar Series Invited speake
External Examiner PhD UCL
Invited Keynote Innovations In Environmental Monitoring international conference, York
IET Big Data Workshop Invited speaker
Invited Speaker, Roadmaps for Energy, Newcastle upon Tyne
Invited speaker Northumbrian Water Innovation Week
Invited speaker IoT Things Happening, Wuthering Bytes, Yorkshire
Reviewer International Journal of GIS
Google Span Design (Newcastle) workshop invited speaker
Reviewer Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing
Reviewer Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Multimedia, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT)
Co-organiser GISRUK 2019 Conference (Newcastle)
Connected City/Digital Newcastle


  1. 2018 Research England CCF, Rebuscov: Removing Operational, Infrastructural and Entry Barriers to Urban Scale Computer Vision Deployments (REBUSCOV) (£100,000), (PI: P.James)
  2. 2018 Research England CCF, RUBICON: Removing Barriers to air quality IOt moNitoring in Cities, (£101,000), (PI: P James)
  3. 2018 Research England Promoting the Internet of Things via Collaborations between HEIs & Industry (£4.9m) Theme lead for Smart Cities and Newcastle PI
  4. 2018 Department for Transport Transport Technology Research Innovation Grant, Detecting the impact of vessels on air quality using emissions monitoring systems (£30K)
  5. 2017 UK Natural and Environmental Research Council (NE/R014884/1) Novel low-cost methods for marine mammal and environmental monitoring (£400K) (PI: Dr Per Berggren)
  6. 2017 UK Environmental and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/R013411/1) CORONA: City Observatory Research platfOrm for iNnovation and Analytics (Total Award £1m PI Phil James)
  7. 2017 UK Environmental and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P028527/1) IMAGINE: Innovative technologies for rapidly surveying, mapping and communicating waterborne hazards (GCRF: Total Award: £477,153)
  8. 2017 UK Environmental and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P025641/1) Learning from Earthquakes: Building Resilient Communities Through Earthquake Reconnaissance, Response and Recovery (Total Award £ 457,939)
  9. 2017 UK Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC NE/P017134/1) Flood-Prepared: Predicting Rainfall Events by Physical Analytics of REaltime Data (Total award £1,523,519)
  10. 2017 UK Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC Public Engagement) The science of carbon capture: creating a carbon capture garden at Newcastle Science Central for people and nature (Total award £16,924)
  11. 2017 UK Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC NE/P016952/1) Catchment Risk Assessments using Multi-Scale Data (CARISMA) (Total award £161,827)
  12. 2016 UK Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC GCRF NE/P015476/1) Building REsilience to Multi-source Flooding in South/Southeast Asia through a Technology-informed Community-based approach (REMATCH) (Total award £167,389)
  13. 2016 UK Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC SHEAR NE/P000681/1) Landslide Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment, Preparedness and Early Warning in South Asia: Integrating Meteorology, Landscape and Society (LANDSLIP)  (Total award £881,560  NCL £114,347, 2016 ~ 2020)
  14. 2016 UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure & Cities (UKCRIC) (EP/P016782/1, EP/P016707/1) Urban Observatory Total award £14m (ci James £1.6m 2016 ~ 2021) (UKCRIC PIs Prof Richard Dawson, Prof Stephanie Glendinning)
  15. 2016 UK Environmental and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC EP/N01426X/1, £584,269, PI Dr Paolo Missier (01/02/2016 ~ 31/01/2019) ReComp: sustained value extraction from analytics by recurring selective re-computation
  16. 2015 UK Environmental and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC Digital Economy EP/M023001/1, £4 million, £286,569 CI James) Digital Economy Research Centre, 2015 , 4 years of RA development time to work on projects relating to urban sensing. (PI Prof. Patrick Olivier)
  17. 2013 UK Environmental and Physical Sciences Research Council (2013 , EPSRC: Digital Economy Sustainable Society Network EPSRC: EP/K003593/1, £50K) – Integrating Twitter and Urban Flooding ( iTURF) developed real-time systems to integrate tweets about flooding (location and intensity) into GPU based real-time flood modelling. (PI Prof Qiuhua Liang)
  18. 2012 UK Environmental and Physical Sciences Research Council (2012 , EPSRC EP/J501359/1) Long Term Urban Research Framework (LTURF)  Led WP on development of integrated systems architecture for management of heterogeneous sensor systems and the dissemination and visualisation of the data. (PI Prof. Richard Dawson)
  19. 2012 Climate Change Development Network (UK Department for International Development), (2012-2015, CDKN (DfID), £664K (200K)) (CDKN: RSGL-0024H), Led development of climate web portal and underlying data and processing infrastructure for Caribbean region. (PI Dr Aidan Burton/Prof Chris Kilsby)
  20. 2012 UK Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, (2012~2013, DEFRA, £125k) led WP on development of embedded models of Source Apportionment of Pollution within a mapping and GIS framework (PI Dr Adam Jarvis)
  21. UK Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, UKCP09 Data Delivery Program (2007-2010, DEFRA, £2m (£400k Newcastle))  led the development team responsible for UKCP09 data and processing portal (PI Prof. Chris Kilsby)


I teach GIS and Informatics across a number of schools and 2 faculties and participate in 3 field courses annually.

Undergraduate Teaching

CEG1702 Introduction to GIS (module leader 70%)

CEG1710 Introduction to GIS (module leader 70%)

CEG1713 Informatics 1 (module leader 100%)

CEG2722 Informatics 2 (module leader 70%)

CEG 3701 GIS Fieldcourse (module leader 60%)

I also make significant contributions to CEG1711, CEG2712, CEG1604 & CEG1714

Postgraduate Teaching

CEG8702 GIS Fundamentals (module leader 100%) 

CEG8705 GIS (module leader 100%)