New Paper: User-Generated Big Data and Urban Morphology

Continuing our work with crowdsourcing and geosocial analysis we recently had a paper published in a special issue of the  Built Environment journal entitled “User-Generated Big Data and Urban Morphology.”
The theme of the special issue is: “Big Data and the City” which was guest edited by Mike Batty and includes 12 papers.  To quote from the website

“This cutting edge special issue responds to the latest digital revolution, setting out the state of the art of the new technologies around so-called Big Data, critically examining the hyperbole surrounding smartness and other claims, and relating it to age-old urban challenges. Big data is everywhere, largely generated by automated systems operating in real time that potentially tell us how cities are performing and changing. A product of the smart city, it is providing us with novel data sets that suggest ways in which we might plan better, and design more sustainable environments. The articles in this issue tell us how scientists and planners are using big data to better understand everything from new forms of mobility in transport systems to new uses of social media. Together, they reveal how visualization is fast becoming an integral part of developing a thorough understanding of our cities.”

Table of Contents

In our paper we discuss and show how crowdsourced data is leading to the emergence of alternate views of urban morphology that better capture the intricate nature of urban environments and their dynamics. Specifically how such data can provide us information pertaining to linked spaces and geosocial neighborhoods. We argue that a geosocial neighborhood is not defined by its administrative boundaries, planning zones, or physical barriers, but rather by its emergence as an organic self-organized social construct that is embedded in geographical spaces that are linked by human activity. Below is the abstract of the paper and some of the figures we have in it which showcase our work.
“Traditionally urban morphology has been the study of cities as human habitats through the analysis of their tangible, physical artefacts. Such artefacts are outcomes of complex social and economic forces, and their study is primarily driven by traditional modes of data collection (e.g. based on censuses, physical surveys, and mapping). The emergence of Web 2.0 and through its applications, platforms and mechanisms that foster user-generated contributions to be made, disseminated, and debated in cyberspace, is providing a new lens in the study of urban morphology. In this paper, we showcase ways in which user-generated ‘big data’ can be harvested and analyzed to generate snapshots and impressionistic views of the urban landscape in physical terms. We discuss and support through representative examples the potential of such analysis in revealing how urban spaces are perceived by the general public, establishing links between tangible artefacts and cyber-social elements. These links may be in the form of references to, observations about, or events that enrich and move beyond the traditional physical characteristics of various locations. This leads to the emergence of alternate views of urban morphology that better capture the intricate nature of urban environments and their dynamics.”

Keywords: Urban Morphology, Social Media, GeoSocial, Cities, Big Data.

City Infoscapes – Fusing Data from Physical (L1, L2), Social, Perceptual (L3) Spaces to Derive Place Abstractions (L4) for Different Locations (N1, N2).
Recreational Hotspots Composed of “Locals” and “Tourists” with Perceived Artifacts Indicating “Use” and “Need”. (A) High Line Park (B) Madison Square Garden.




Moving from Spatial Neighborhoods to Geosocial Neighborhoods via Links.

The Emergence of Geosocial Neighborhoods after the in the
Aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing

Full  Reference: 

Crooks, A.T., Croitoru, A., Jenkins, A., Mahabir, R., Agouris, P. and Stefanidis A. (2016). “User-Generated Big Data and Urban Morphology,”  Built Environment, 42 (3): 396-414. (pdf)

Continue reading »

New Paper: User-Generated Big Data and Urban Morphology

Continuing our work with crowdsourcing and geosocial analysis we recently had a paper published in a special issue of the  Built Environment journal entitled “User-Generated Big Data and Urban Morphology.”
The theme of the special issue is: “Big Data and the City” which was guest edited by Mike Batty and includes 12 papers.  To quote from the website

“This cutting edge special issue responds to the latest digital revolution, setting out the state of the art of the new technologies around so-called Big Data, critically examining the hyperbole surrounding smartness and other claims, and relating it to age-old urban challenges. Big data is everywhere, largely generated by automated systems operating in real time that potentially tell us how cities are performing and changing. A product of the smart city, it is providing us with novel data sets that suggest ways in which we might plan better, and design more sustainable environments. The articles in this issue tell us how scientists and planners are using big data to better understand everything from new forms of mobility in transport systems to new uses of social media. Together, they reveal how visualization is fast becoming an integral part of developing a thorough understanding of our cities.”

Table of Contents

In our paper we discuss and show how crowdsourced data is leading to the emergence of alternate views of urban morphology that better capture the intricate nature of urban environments and their dynamics. Specifically how such data can provide us information pertaining to linked spaces and geosocial neighborhoods. We argue that a geosocial neighborhood is not defined by its administrative boundaries, planning zones, or physical barriers, but rather by its emergence as an organic self-organized social construct that is embedded in geographical spaces that are linked by human activity. Below is the abstract of the paper and some of the figures we have in it which showcase our work.
“Traditionally urban morphology has been the study of cities as human habitats through the analysis of their tangible, physical artefacts. Such artefacts are outcomes of complex social and economic forces, and their study is primarily driven by traditional modes of data collection (e.g. based on censuses, physical surveys, and mapping). The emergence of Web 2.0 and through its applications, platforms and mechanisms that foster user-generated contributions to be made, disseminated, and debated in cyberspace, is providing a new lens in the study of urban morphology. In this paper, we showcase ways in which user-generated ‘big data’ can be harvested and analyzed to generate snapshots and impressionistic views of the urban landscape in physical terms. We discuss and support through representative examples the potential of such analysis in revealing how urban spaces are perceived by the general public, establishing links between tangible artefacts and cyber-social elements. These links may be in the form of references to, observations about, or events that enrich and move beyond the traditional physical characteristics of various locations. This leads to the emergence of alternate views of urban morphology that better capture the intricate nature of urban environments and their dynamics.”

Keywords: Urban Morphology, Social Media, GeoSocial, Cities, Big Data.

City Infoscapes – Fusing Data from Physical (L1, L2), Social, Perceptual (L3) Spaces to Derive Place Abstractions (L4) for Different Locations (N1, N2).
Recreational Hotspots Composed of “Locals” and “Tourists” with Perceived Artifacts Indicating “Use” and “Need”. (A) High Line Park (B) Madison Square Garden.




Moving from Spatial Neighborhoods to Geosocial Neighborhoods via Links.

The Emergence of Geosocial Neighborhoods after the in the
Aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing

Full  Reference: 

Crooks, A.T., Croitoru, A., Jenkins, A., Mahabir, R., Agouris, P. and Stefanidis A. (2016). “User-Generated Big Data and Urban Morphology,”  Built Environment, 42 (3): 396-414. (pdf)

Continue reading »

Understanding Cities through Individual-Level Data – Opportunities and Challenges

As it’s been a while since I last posted, I thought I’d put up something I prepared for a Royal Society Smart Cities and Transportation workshop next week. I’ve focussed on data collected at the individual-level, and the opportunities the data present for better understanding cities, and the challenges the maximisation of these resources face. There are no …
Read more

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Book Review: Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/rethinking-global-land-use-urban-era
Recently I  reviewed a great book entitled “Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era” edited  by Karen Seto and Anette Reenberg (2014) for the Journal of Regional Science. Readers can read my review below.
The beginning of the 21st Century marked a milestone in human history. For the first time, more than half of the world’s population lived in urban areas (3.9 billion). This trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future with 6.3 billion people living in cities by 2050 (United Nations, 2014). This growth will cause more urban land to be developed during the first 30 years of the 21st century than in all of human history (Angel et al., 2011). Combine this unprecedented urban expansion with global population growth, which is expected to grow from today’s 7.3 to 11.2 billion by 2100 (United Nations, 2015), and we are faced with unprecedented challenges and questions to be asked with respect to land-use in the 21st century. For example, how much living space will be needed to accommodate this growing population or how much land will be needed to feed such a population? Or how does urban growth in one country impact agricultural production and deforestation in the other parts of the world? To answer these questions, we need to understand the complexity of land competition from social, economic, and environmental perspectives at the local, national, and international levels and the connections between them.

In their edited book, Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, Karen Seto and Anette Reenberg bring together 17 chapters from 50 experts from a variety of fields to explore global land dynamics in the 21st century. The first chapter acts as an introduction and scene-setting to the following chapters: it identifies current trends reshaping land-use locally and globally such as urbanization and the growing integration of economies and markets (e.g. telecoupling, see Seto et al., 2012), but also argues that there is a need to rethink land change science in a time when more and more people are living in cities. Specifically, they argue one should look at land-use through four lenses (which are the major sections in the book): land-use competition; distal land connections; decision making, governance, and institutions; and, finally, urbanization and land-use.

The first section of the book focuses on land-use competition, specifically what types of land-use competition exist (such as forest vs. agricultural or urban vs. agriculture), and discusses how local land-use change is increasingly being caused by global factors (chapter 2). Chapter 3 addresses food security with respect to the growing population and discusses the need for intensification of production. Chapter 4 discusses the issue of finite land resources and competition for land—such as production vs. production (e.g. food vs. fuel) or production vs. conservation (e.g. food production vs. conservation). What is interesting about this chapter is that the competition for land is not just local but also global, due to the growing number of sovereign wealth funds and multi-national corporations and the increasing degree of interconnections between places. The section concludes with chapter 5, which offers an in-depth discussion of land-use competition between food production and urban expansion in China, specifically the effects of urbanization on the loss of cultivated land for food production.

Source: Seto, K.C. and Reenberg, A. (eds.) (2014), Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
The second section of the book explores distal land connections. It opens with a chapter that reviews the globalization of economic flows and the impact of these forces on land-use transitions (i.e. land-use and land-cover change). Chapter 7 introduces applications based on the telecoupling framework to land-change science. It makes a compelling argument considering not just coupled human-environmental systems (where the focus is on local conditions) but also causes that emanate from distant locations to truly understand land-change. This theme continues in chapter 8, which outlines analytical approaches to study telecoupling, while chapter 9 uses palm oil as a case study of distal land connections. In essence, the consumers of palm oil live far from the source; thus many consumers do not immediately feel the impacts of palm oil production on land-use change.

In the third section of the book, the focus is on decision-making, governance, and institutions. Chapter 10 discusses the emergence of global land governance as a result of land grabbing by foreign investors or governments (see GRAIN, 2008), which is prompting states and global civil society to devise new global land governance instruments, while chapter 11 explores large-scale land (grabbing) transactions with a specific emphasis on the actors and their interactions. Chapter 12 focuses on private market-based regulations (such as the Forest Stewardship Council) and what they mean for land-use governance at the local and international level. The final chapter in this section focuses on changes in land-use governance in an urban era. It discusses how governance mechanisms that manage land-use are changing from territorial organizations to global industries that are tied to specific resource flows between urban and rural areas.

The final section of the book turns to urbanization and land-use. Chapter 14 reviews major contemporary urban patterns and processes related to urbanization, such as central place theory, and shows how advances in technology and infrastructure challenge such established theories. The next chapter discusses how urban land-use is unique in terms of form, size, and shape of cities and asks what will the future hold? Will cities be sprawling or compact? An interesting fact brought up in chapter 15 is that currently less than five percent of the earth’s surface is urban and with the urban population predicted to grow to 5 billion by 2030, the urban footprint will still be less than 10 percent (Seto et al., 2011). The final chapter in this section proposes a framework that moves away from looking at land as discrete categories but instead as a continuum with respect to sustainable development. The book concludes with a chapter written by the editors, which not only provides a summary of what was presented, but reemphasizes the interconnected nature of land-use and the need to study future global land change and urbanization from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Overall this is a timely, relevant, and thought-provoking collection of papers which not only explores urbanization and food production using case studies from around the world as well as the connections between cities and distant places, but also lays the foundation for new ways of thinking about land-use sustainability in the coming decades. In my opinion, this book would be a great resource for scholars interested in current state of the art of land-use science and a good textbook for any course exploring land-use and land-cover change in the 21st century.

References:

  • Angel, Shlomo, Jason Parent, Daniel L. Civco, Alexander Blei, and David Potere. 2011. “The Dimensions of Global Urban Expansion: Estimates and Projections for All Countries, 2000–2050,” Progress in Planning, 75(2): 53-107.
  • GRAIN. 2008.Seized: The 2008 Landgrab for Food and Financial Security,” Available at http://bit.ly/28Nc7xK [Accessed on September, 7th, 2015].
  • Seto, Karen C., Michail Fragkias, Burak Güneralp, and Michael K. Reilly. 2011. “A Meta-analysis of Global Urban Land Expansion,” PloS One, 6(8): e23777.
  • Seto, Karen C., Anette Reenberg, Christopher G. Boone, Michail Fragkias, Dagmar Haase, Tobias Langanke, Peter Marcotullio, Darla K. Munroe, Branislav Olah, and David Simon. 2012. “Urban Land Teleconnections and Sustainability,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(20): 7687-7692.
  • United Nations. 2014. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, NY.
  • United Nations. 2015. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, NY.

Citation: 

Crooks, A.T. (2016), Crooks on Seto and Reenberg (eds.): Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, Journal of Regional Science, 56 (4): 723-725. (pdf)

Continue reading »

Book Review: Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/rethinking-global-land-use-urban-era
Recently I  reviewed a great book entitled “Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era” edited  by Karen Seto and Anette Reenberg (2014) for the Journal of Regional Science. Readers can read my review below.
The beginning of the 21st Century marked a milestone in human history. For the first time, more than half of the world’s population lived in urban areas (3.9 billion). This trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future with 6.3 billion people living in cities by 2050 (United Nations, 2014). This growth will cause more urban land to be developed during the first 30 years of the 21st century than in all of human history (Angel et al., 2011). Combine this unprecedented urban expansion with global population growth, which is expected to grow from today’s 7.3 to 11.2 billion by 2100 (United Nations, 2015), and we are faced with unprecedented challenges and questions to be asked with respect to land-use in the 21st century. For example, how much living space will be needed to accommodate this growing population or how much land will be needed to feed such a population? Or how does urban growth in one country impact agricultural production and deforestation in the other parts of the world? To answer these questions, we need to understand the complexity of land competition from social, economic, and environmental perspectives at the local, national, and international levels and the connections between them.

In their edited book, Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, Karen Seto and Anette Reenberg bring together 17 chapters from 50 experts from a variety of fields to explore global land dynamics in the 21st century. The first chapter acts as an introduction and scene-setting to the following chapters: it identifies current trends reshaping land-use locally and globally such as urbanization and the growing integration of economies and markets (e.g. telecoupling, see Seto et al., 2012), but also argues that there is a need to rethink land change science in a time when more and more people are living in cities. Specifically, they argue one should look at land-use through four lenses (which are the major sections in the book): land-use competition; distal land connections; decision making, governance, and institutions; and, finally, urbanization and land-use.

The first section of the book focuses on land-use competition, specifically what types of land-use competition exist (such as forest vs. agricultural or urban vs. agriculture), and discusses how local land-use change is increasingly being caused by global factors (chapter 2). Chapter 3 addresses food security with respect to the growing population and discusses the need for intensification of production. Chapter 4 discusses the issue of finite land resources and competition for land—such as production vs. production (e.g. food vs. fuel) or production vs. conservation (e.g. food production vs. conservation). What is interesting about this chapter is that the competition for land is not just local but also global, due to the growing number of sovereign wealth funds and multi-national corporations and the increasing degree of interconnections between places. The section concludes with chapter 5, which offers an in-depth discussion of land-use competition between food production and urban expansion in China, specifically the effects of urbanization on the loss of cultivated land for food production.

Source: Seto, K.C. and Reenberg, A. (eds.) (2014), Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
The second section of the book explores distal land connections. It opens with a chapter that reviews the globalization of economic flows and the impact of these forces on land-use transitions (i.e. land-use and land-cover change). Chapter 7 introduces applications based on the telecoupling framework to land-change science. It makes a compelling argument considering not just coupled human-environmental systems (where the focus is on local conditions) but also causes that emanate from distant locations to truly understand land-change. This theme continues in chapter 8, which outlines analytical approaches to study telecoupling, while chapter 9 uses palm oil as a case study of distal land connections. In essence, the consumers of palm oil live far from the source; thus many consumers do not immediately feel the impacts of palm oil production on land-use change.

In the third section of the book, the focus is on decision-making, governance, and institutions. Chapter 10 discusses the emergence of global land governance as a result of land grabbing by foreign investors or governments (see GRAIN, 2008), which is prompting states and global civil society to devise new global land governance instruments, while chapter 11 explores large-scale land (grabbing) transactions with a specific emphasis on the actors and their interactions. Chapter 12 focuses on private market-based regulations (such as the Forest Stewardship Council) and what they mean for land-use governance at the local and international level. The final chapter in this section focuses on changes in land-use governance in an urban era. It discusses how governance mechanisms that manage land-use are changing from territorial organizations to global industries that are tied to specific resource flows between urban and rural areas.

The final section of the book turns to urbanization and land-use. Chapter 14 reviews major contemporary urban patterns and processes related to urbanization, such as central place theory, and shows how advances in technology and infrastructure challenge such established theories. The next chapter discusses how urban land-use is unique in terms of form, size, and shape of cities and asks what will the future hold? Will cities be sprawling or compact? An interesting fact brought up in chapter 15 is that currently less than five percent of the earth’s surface is urban and with the urban population predicted to grow to 5 billion by 2030, the urban footprint will still be less than 10 percent (Seto et al., 2011). The final chapter in this section proposes a framework that moves away from looking at land as discrete categories but instead as a continuum with respect to sustainable development. The book concludes with a chapter written by the editors, which not only provides a summary of what was presented, but reemphasizes the interconnected nature of land-use and the need to study future global land change and urbanization from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Overall this is a timely, relevant, and thought-provoking collection of papers which not only explores urbanization and food production using case studies from around the world as well as the connections between cities and distant places, but also lays the foundation for new ways of thinking about land-use sustainability in the coming decades. In my opinion, this book would be a great resource for scholars interested in current state of the art of land-use science and a good textbook for any course exploring land-use and land-cover change in the 21st century.

References:

  • Angel, Shlomo, Jason Parent, Daniel L. Civco, Alexander Blei, and David Potere. 2011. “The Dimensions of Global Urban Expansion: Estimates and Projections for All Countries, 2000–2050,” Progress in Planning, 75(2): 53-107.
  • GRAIN. 2008.Seized: The 2008 Landgrab for Food and Financial Security,” Available at http://bit.ly/28Nc7xK [Accessed on September, 7th, 2015].
  • Seto, Karen C., Michail Fragkias, Burak Güneralp, and Michael K. Reilly. 2011. “A Meta-analysis of Global Urban Land Expansion,” PloS One, 6(8): e23777.
  • Seto, Karen C., Anette Reenberg, Christopher G. Boone, Michail Fragkias, Dagmar Haase, Tobias Langanke, Peter Marcotullio, Darla K. Munroe, Branislav Olah, and David Simon. 2012. “Urban Land Teleconnections and Sustainability,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(20): 7687-7692.
  • United Nations. 2014. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, NY.
  • United Nations. 2015. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, NY.

Citation: 

Crooks, A.T. (2016), Crooks on Seto and Reenberg (eds.): Rethinking Global Land Use in an Urban Era, Journal of Regional Science, 56 (4): 723-725. (pdf)

Continue reading »

A Semester with Urban Analytics

This past semester I gave a new class at GMU entitled “Urban Analytics”. In a nutshell the class was about introducing students to a broad interdisciplinary field that focuses on the use of data to study cities. More specifcally the emphasis of the cla…

Continue reading »

A Semester with Urban Analytics

This past semester I gave a new class at GMU entitled “Urban Analytics”. In a nutshell the class was about introducing students to a broad interdisciplinary field that focuses on the use of data to study cities. More specifcally the emphasis of the cla…

Continue reading »

Call For Papers: Smart Buildings and Cities

Special Issue on Smart Buildings and Cities for IEEE Pervasive Computing

Submission deadline: 1 July 2016  Extended to July 18th, 2016
Publication date: April–June 2017

One of Mark Weiser’s first envisionments of ubiquitous and pervasive computing had the smart home as its central core. Since then, researchers focused on realizing this vision have built out from the smart home to the smart city. Such environments aim to improve the transparency of information and the quality of life through access to smarter and more appropriate services.

Despite efforts to build these environments, there are still many unanswered questions: What does it mean to make a building or a city “smart”? What infrastructure is necessary to support smart environments? What is the return on investment of a smart environment?

The key to building smart environments is the fusion of multiple technologies including sensing, advanced networks, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data analytics, and mobile devices. This special issue aims to explore new technologies, methodologies, case studies, and applications related to smart buildings and cities. Contributions may come from diverse fields such as distributed systems, HCI, ambient intelligence, architecture, transportation and urban planning, policy development, and cyber-physical systems. Relevant topics for issue include

  • Applications, evaluations, or case studies of smart buildings/cities
  • Architectures and systems software to support smart environments
  • Big data analytics for monitoring and managing smart environments
  • Economic models for smart buildings/cities
  • Models for user interaction in smart environments
  • Formative studies regarding the design, use, and acceptance of smart services
  • Configuration and management of smart environments
  • Embedded, mobile ,and crowd sensing approaches
  • Cloud computing for smart environments
  • Domain-specific investigations (such as transportation or healthcare)

The guest editors invite original and high-quality submissions addressing all aspects of this field, as long as the connection to the focus topic is clear and emphasized.

Guest Editors

Submission Information

Continue reading »

Call For Papers: Smart Buildings and Cities

Special Issue on Smart Buildings and Cities for IEEE Pervasive Computing

Submission deadline: 1 July 2016  Extended to July 18th, 2016
Publication date: April–June 2017

One of Mark Weiser’s first envisionments of ubiquitous and pervasive computing had the smart home as its central core. Since then, researchers focused on realizing this vision have built out from the smart home to the smart city. Such environments aim to improve the transparency of information and the quality of life through access to smarter and more appropriate services.

Despite efforts to build these environments, there are still many unanswered questions: What does it mean to make a building or a city “smart”? What infrastructure is necessary to support smart environments? What is the return on investment of a smart environment?

The key to building smart environments is the fusion of multiple technologies including sensing, advanced networks, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data analytics, and mobile devices. This special issue aims to explore new technologies, methodologies, case studies, and applications related to smart buildings and cities. Contributions may come from diverse fields such as distributed systems, HCI, ambient intelligence, architecture, transportation and urban planning, policy development, and cyber-physical systems. Relevant topics for issue include

  • Applications, evaluations, or case studies of smart buildings/cities
  • Architectures and systems software to support smart environments
  • Big data analytics for monitoring and managing smart environments
  • Economic models for smart buildings/cities
  • Models for user interaction in smart environments
  • Formative studies regarding the design, use, and acceptance of smart services
  • Configuration and management of smart environments
  • Embedded, mobile ,and crowd sensing approaches
  • Cloud computing for smart environments
  • Domain-specific investigations (such as transportation or healthcare)

The guest editors invite original and high-quality submissions addressing all aspects of this field, as long as the connection to the focus topic is clear and emphasized.

Guest Editors

Submission Information

Continue reading »

“Space, the Final Frontier”: How Good are Agent-Based Models at Simulating Individuals and Space in Cities?

Recently, Alison Heppenstall, Nick Malleson  and myself have just had a paper accepted in Systems entitled: “Space, the Final Frontier”: How Good are Agent-Based Models at Simulating Individuals and Space in Cities?” In the paper we critically examine how well agent-based models have  simulated a variety of urban processes. We discus what considerations are needed when choosing the appropriate level of spatial analysis and time frame to model urban phenomena and what role Big Data can play in agent-based modeling. Below you can read the abstract of the paper and see a number of example applications discussed.

Abstract: Cities are complex systems, comprising of many interacting parts. How we simulate and understand causality in urban systems is continually evolving. Over the last decade the agent-based modeling (ABM) paradigm has provided a new lens for understanding the effects of interactions of individuals and how through such interactions macro structures emerge, both in the social and physical environment of cities. However, such a paradigm has been hindered due to computational power and a lack of large fine scale datasets. Within the last few years we have witnessed a massive increase in computational processing power and storage, combined with the onset of Big Data. Today geographers find themselves in a data rich era. We now have access to a variety of data sources (e.g., social media, mobile phone data, etc.) that tells us how, and when, individuals are using urban spaces. These data raise several questions: can we effectively use them to understand and model cities as complex entities? How well have ABM approaches lent themselves to simulating the dynamics of urban processes? What has been, or will be, the influence of Big Data on increasing our ability to understand and simulate cities? What is the appropriate level of spatial analysis and time frame to model urban phenomena? Within this paper we discuss these questions using several examples of ABM applied to urban geography to begin a dialogue about the utility of ABM for urban modeling. The arguments that the paper raises are applicable across the wider research environment where researchers are considering using this approach.

Keywords: cities; agent-based modeling; big data; crime; retail; space; simulation

Figure 1. (A) System structure; (B) System hierarchy; and (C) Related subsystems/processes (adapted from Batty, 2013).

Reference cited:

Batty, M. (2013).  The New Science of Cities; MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA.

Full reference to the open access paper:

Heppenstall, A., Malleson, N. and Crooks A.T. (2016). “Space, the Final Frontier”: How Good are Agent-based Models at Simulating Individuals and Space in Cities?, Systems, 4(1), 9; doi: 10.3390/systems4010009 (pdf)

 

Continue reading »

“Space, the Final Frontier”: How Good are Agent-Based Models at Simulating Individuals and Space in Cities?

Recently, Alison Heppenstall, Nick Malleson  and myself have just had a paper accepted in Systems entitled: “Space, the Final Frontier”: How Good are Agent-Based Models at Simulating Individuals and Space in Cities?” In the paper we critically examine how well agent-based models have  simulated a variety of urban processes. We discus what considerations are needed when choosing the appropriate level of spatial analysis and time frame to model urban phenomena and what role Big Data can play in agent-based modeling. Below you can read the abstract of the paper and see a number of example applications discussed.

Abstract: Cities are complex systems, comprising of many interacting parts. How we simulate and understand causality in urban systems is continually evolving. Over the last decade the agent-based modeling (ABM) paradigm has provided a new lens for understanding the effects of interactions of individuals and how through such interactions macro structures emerge, both in the social and physical environment of cities. However, such a paradigm has been hindered due to computational power and a lack of large fine scale datasets. Within the last few years we have witnessed a massive increase in computational processing power and storage, combined with the onset of Big Data. Today geographers find themselves in a data rich era. We now have access to a variety of data sources (e.g., social media, mobile phone data, etc.) that tells us how, and when, individuals are using urban spaces. These data raise several questions: can we effectively use them to understand and model cities as complex entities? How well have ABM approaches lent themselves to simulating the dynamics of urban processes? What has been, or will be, the influence of Big Data on increasing our ability to understand and simulate cities? What is the appropriate level of spatial analysis and time frame to model urban phenomena? Within this paper we discuss these questions using several examples of ABM applied to urban geography to begin a dialogue about the utility of ABM for urban modeling. The arguments that the paper raises are applicable across the wider research environment where researchers are considering using this approach.

Keywords: cities; agent-based modeling; big data; crime; retail; space; simulation

Figure 1. (A) System structure; (B) System hierarchy; and (C) Related subsystems/processes (adapted from Batty, 2013).

Reference cited:

Batty, M. (2013).  The New Science of Cities; MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA.

Full reference to the open access paper:

Heppenstall, A., Malleson, N. and Crooks A.T. (2016). “Space, the Final Frontier”: How Good are Agent-based Models at Simulating Individuals and Space in Cities?, Systems, 4(1), 9; doi: 10.3390/systems4010009 (pdf)

 

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Mapping Connected Places on London’s Public Transport Network

I haven’t written much on this blog about the work I’m currently doing at UCL CASA.  As a Research Associate working on the Mechanicity with Mike Batty, I’m tasked with drawing meaning out of a massive dataset of Oyster Card tap ins and tap outs across London’s public transport network.  The dataset covers every Oyster …
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IBM 5 in 5 – smart city induced utopia? According to…

IBM 5 in 5 – smart city induced utopia?

According to IBM’s 5 in 5 predictions:

“…cities can be hard unforgiving places to live…cities are tough, because they require us to live on their terms, but in five years the tables will turn. With cities adapting to our terms, with cloud-based social feedback, crowdsourcing, and predictive analytics, we’ll shape our cities to our evolving wants and needs, comings and goings, and late-night pizza hankerings. By engaging citizens, city leaders will be able to respond directly to our needs, and dynamically allocate resources…and pizza.”

There is an increasingly concerned chorus of critics objecting to the marketing language used by some proponents of “smart cities”, because they sense that corporate interests and government departments may well try to leverage the new technologies from the top-down, instead of the bottom-up approach preferred by an increasingly empowered citizenry.

There is a bit of truth mixed-in with the hype. For example, it is true that bottom-up crowdsourced information feedback allows the city to self-organise – to dynamically adapt to both new and old opportunities and challenges – and to develop a sort of self-regulating city ‘consciousness’. But a more nuanced view is necessary when it comes to forecasting the end of all evils due to the the implied top-down mastery of all things complex…

A more rounded perspective can be found in new books by Anthony Townsend and, from a scientific perspective, Mike Batty, with a solid review of both books available from the New Scientist.

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IBM 5 in 5 – smart city induced utopia? Apparently, we are…

IBM 5 in 5 – smart city induced utopia?

Apparently, we are rapidly approaching the dawn of a technologically induced utopia – a promised land of sorts – a (not so) new claim that all of our problems are rapidly becoming a thing of the past…because overcrowded busses and late pizza will be resolved by the smartening-up of cities.

According to IBM’s 5 in 5 predictions:

“…cities can be hard unforgiving places to live…cities are tough, because they require us to live on their terms, but in five years the tables will turn. With cities adapting to our terms, with cloud-based social feedback, crowdsourcing, and predictive analytics, we’ll shape our cities to our evolving wants and needs, comings and goings, and late-night pizza hankerings. By engaging citizens, city leaders will be able to respond directly to our needs, and dynamically allocate resources…and pizza.”

No wonder there is an increasingly concerned chorus of critics objecting to the marketing language used by some proponents of “smart cities”, because they sense that corporate interests and government departments may well try to leverage the new technologies from the top-down, instead of the bottom-up approach preferred by an increasingly empowered citizenry.

There is a bit of truth mixed-in with the hype. It is true that bottom-up crowdsourced information feedback allows the city to self-organise – to dynamically adapt to both new and old opportunities and challenges – and to develop a sort of self-regulating city ‘consciousness’. But a more nuanced view is necessary when it comes to forecasting the end of all evils due to the the implied top-down mastery of all things complex… and this due to the somewhat simplistic notion of government officials sitting behind giant screens in new control centres.

A more rounded perspective can be found in new books by Anthony Townsend and Mike Batty, with a solid review (of both books) available from the New Scientist.

Continue reading »

Steve Rayner on Path Dependence in Cities An interesting…

Steve Rayner on Path Dependence in Cities

An interesting presentation by Steve Rayner in which he discusses the significance of Path Dependence and “lock-in”.

Path dependence explains how the set of decisions one faces for any given circumstance is limited by the decisions one has made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant. (Wikipedia)

Steve explains that our cities are significantly impacted by past innovations and decisions…such as the location of streets, the invention of the car, and technologies like electric light, flushing toilets, and elevators.

Lock-in through path-dependence can end up causing cities and processes to work in ways that are no longer efficient or sensible. Some kind of mechanism is necessary to allow for flexibility or a radical break in order to escape from the status quo. This is largely what Steve’s Flexible City website is about.

A particularly amusing example in Steve’s presentation is that the size of the space shuttle’s rocket thrusters were determined by the width of a horse’s ass…see the video for details.

Continue reading »

Steve Rayner on Path Dependence in Cities An interesting…

Steve Rayner on Path Dependence in Cities

An interesting presentation by Steve Rayner in which he discusses the significance of Path Dependence and “lock-in”.

Path dependence explains how the set of decisions one faces for any given circumstance is limited by the decisions one has made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant. (Wikipedia)

Steve explains that our cities are significantly impacted by past innovations and decisions…such as the location of streets, the invention of the car, and technologies like electric light, flushing toilets, and elevators.

Lock-in through path-dependence can end up causing cities and processes to work in ways that are no longer efficient or sensible. Some kind of mechanism is necessary to allow for flexibility or a radical break in order to escape from the status quo. This is largely what Steve’s Flexible City website is about.

A particularly amusing example in Steve’s presentation is that the size of the space shuttle’s rocket thrusters were determined by the width of a horse’s ass…see the video for details.

Continue reading »

Luminous Cities: offering an alternative way of geotag


Image1. The webpage of Luminous Cities_Manhattan

Studying human behaviours and communication in time and space has been regarded as the important factor of modern urban planning. In this digital era, collecting online data and analysing the data provide an opportunity to understand the intention and the process of the behaviours and the communication which had not been revealed.
Geotag, which is attached on Social Network Service (SNS), is concerned as one of connecting link between the internet and urban. Mainly, there are two types of geotag. One is user-generated geotag that SNS users identify the places on their contents. The other is automatically generated with spatial coordination by the services. It represents the political, social and economic characteristics of the places as well as the physical location of the user or the data produced.

There are many good examples of mapping the geotag data of SNS. Eric Fischer’s well known mapping images reveal not only the density of the geotag data but also social aspects in cities such as the invisible dimensions of tourism in New York (Image 2). Twitter Languages in London by James Cheshire and Ed Manley shows the popularity of languages depends on different locations in London ((Image 3).

Image2. The mapping geotag data of locals and tourists by Eric Fischer 

Image3. Twitter Languages in London, James Cheshire and Ed Manley


Luminous Cities is the project to demonstrate the interactive map of Flickr geotag data supported by CASA at UCL and CSAP at the University of Leeds. It has developed by Gavin Baily and Sarah Bagshaw. The project does not remain the displaying density and distribution of the geotag, but offers in-detail contents of the geotag such as user, tag, time of the day and timeline over 50 cities in the world. With the multiple contents, Luminous Cities could be a platform to check out the geotag data of Flickr based on personal interest, and to view their cities from a different side. When it comes to Networking City, who is interested in protest and demonstration in the city, it would be a helpful tool to examine the relationship between protests or occupy tags of Flickr in London and actual events of them. Also, some interesting results may be emerging when we compare two data sets: Flickr and Twitter.

Image4. Berlin user geotag map from the webpage of Luminous Cities

Image5. London occupy geotag map from the webpage of Luminous Cities

Image6. Tokyo geotag map, Zoom out, from the webpage of Luminous Cities

Image7. Tokyo geotag map, Zoom in, from the webpage of Luminous Cities

You can find more things from following links.
Flickr was shown as the highest growing application in 2013 by Mashable

Mapping the world with Flickr and Twitter by Guardian

Infographic Of The Day: Using Twitter And Flickr Geotags To Map The World

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664462/infographic-of-the-day-using-twitter-and-flickr-geotags-to-map-the-world

Continue reading »

Luminous Cities: offering an alternative way of geotag


Image1. The webpage of Luminous Cities_Manhattan

Studying human behaviours and communication in time and space has been regarded as the important factor of modern urban planning. In this digital era, collecting online data and analysing the data provide an opportunity to understand the intention and the process of the behaviours and the communication which had not been revealed.
Geotag, which is attached on Social Network Service (SNS), is concerned as one of connecting link between the internet and urban. Mainly, there are two types of geotag. One is user-generated geotag that SNS users identify the places on their contents. The other is automatically generated with spatial coordination by the services. It represents the political, social and economic characteristics of the places as well as the physical location of the user or the data produced.

There are many good examples of mapping the geotag data of SNS. Eric Fischer’s well known mapping images reveal not only the density of the geotag data but also social aspects in cities such as the invisible dimensions of tourism in New York (Image 2). Twitter Languages in London by James Cheshire and Ed Manley shows the popularity of languages depends on different locations in London ((Image 3).

Image2. The mapping geotag data of locals and tourists by Eric Fischer 

Image3. Twitter Languages in London, James Cheshire and Ed Manley


Luminous Cities is the project to demonstrate the interactive map of Flickr geotag data supported by CASA at UCL and CSAP at the University of Leeds. It has developed by Gavin Baily and Sarah Bagshaw. The project does not remain the displaying density and distribution of the geotag, but offers in-detail contents of the geotag such as user, tag, time of the day and timeline over 50 cities in the world. With the multiple contents, Luminous Cities could be a platform to check out the geotag data of Flickr based on personal interest, and to view their cities from a different side. When it comes to Networking City, who is interested in protest and demonstration in the city, it would be a helpful tool to examine the relationship between protests or occupy tags of Flickr in London and actual events of them. Also, some interesting results may be emerging when we compare two data sets: Flickr and Twitter.

Image4. Berlin user geotag map from the webpage of Luminous Cities

Image5. London occupy geotag map from the webpage of Luminous Cities

Image6. Tokyo geotag map, Zoom out, from the webpage of Luminous Cities

Image7. Tokyo geotag map, Zoom in, from the webpage of Luminous Cities

You can find more things from following links.
Flickr was shown as the highest growing application in 2013 by Mashable

Mapping the world with Flickr and Twitter by Guardian

Infographic Of The Day: Using Twitter And Flickr Geotags To Map The World

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664462/infographic-of-the-day-using-twitter-and-flickr-geotags-to-map-the-world

Continue reading »
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