Constructing Cities, Deconstructing Scaling Laws


Our work on attempting to repeat the work of the Santa Fe group who show that as cities get bigger (primarily for the USA) they get more than proportionately richer, has drawn a massive blank for the UK urban system (England and Wales). It has taken us a while to get this paper published but here it is in Interface (J. R. Soc. Interface 12: 20140745) and you can get it from this blog by clicking on the link or from Interface as it is open access. Essentially what we show for UK cities, in fact for thousands of realisation of city morphologies, the super linear scaling of income against population size is for the most part not borne out. A million explanations suggests themselves, and although these are not attempted in this paper for our concern here is to show how the lack of superlinear scaling is resilient to city definitions in the UK, we will develop explanations in later papers. The integrated nature of the urban economy in the UK, globalisation, the fact that we are dealing essentially with a smaller scale than the US, the fact that the UK is largely a service based economy, these are some of the reasons why we might not expect super linear scaling. And there is even the prospect that as cities become more integrated in a global economy, then any such superlinear scaling that there might have been will disappear. We need to look at the past to second guess the future. More papers forthcoming. Watch this space.

Reference the article as: Arcaute E, Hatna E, Ferguson P, Youn H, Johansson A, Batty M. 2015 Constructing cities, deconstructing scaling laws. J. R. Soc. Interface 12: 20140745.



Big Data + Travel in the Future


Found myself speaking at a massive extravaganza the 2014 Internet Festival in Pisa this coming Saturday 11th October amongst a fascinating line up. In a session with Laszlo Barabasi, Carlo Mol and Davy Jansenns, about how the physical meets the virtual when it comes to how we interact. Don’t know what I will say as yet but I’d better not give the same old stuff about complexity and cities so i need to liven it up with …. well I’ll post it when its done. Click here however  for the complete program

Following the “digital crumbs” each and every one of us leaves behind when we use digital devices, science can now measure our desires, life styles, social relationships and movements in society. This new social microscope provides us with the data to help us understand how the complex organism that is human society operates. This workshop will discuss the challenges and opportunities we will face in the near future, starting with the results of a CNR and University of Pisa European research project that predicts the arrival of the electric car and its impact. With international experts we will debate the challenges facing future means of transport. To conclude the event, we will present the results from the TagMyDay project.