About Michael Batty

I chair CASA at UCL which I set up in 1995. I am Bartlett Professor In UCL.

How Disruptive is the Smart City Movement?


A couple of months ago I attended a meeting at Wilton Park in Sussex organised by the Uk Government’s Tech City Hub (http://www.techcityuk.com/) and a cloud computing company called Improbable (http://improbable.io/) specialising in massively parallel agent based modelling (for cities, transport, the economy, etc.) which focussed on how disruptive smart city technologies were likely to be. In fact the meeting concluded that the like of Uber et al were not likely to be anything as like as disruptive as first imagined but cybersecurity was likely to be much more disruptive on our way of life. In fact the many layers of digital infrastructure now being added could change the nature of disruption quite dramatically as the world becomes ever more complex. The implications are not as they were once seen and I wrote an editorial in Environment and Planning B sketching out come of the consequences. You can get the editorial clicking here or on the picture above.


Mobility, Transit and Big Data


Yesterday I gave a talk on data-driven models to the Hong Kong Poly U Department of Land Surveying and Geomatics, and today I give a similar talk at at 2-30pm in Geography at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. When I got to the Poly U yesterday – and I have been there a few times before – as early as 2001 in fact – I was amazed at the incredible building that had gone up in the last couple of years. The design school is housed  in one of Zaha Hadid’s remarkable buildings that flows like sculpture and this was all the more resonant to me because of her passing away so recently. The talks I am giving pale in insignificance besides this wonderful building, that in fact could not have been developed at all with out the sort off digital technologies and indeed the big data that these lectures are all about.

The talks are about what everyone is calling ‘big data’, that is data that is far too large to fit into an Excel spreadsheet and requires some special skills to manage and massage it. I don’t have these skills but my post docs do. The talks will focus on how big data is the corollary to the smart city and vice versa but then goes on to summarise our work with land use transport models for England and Wales for the Future Cities Catapult where the models are now quite big and the data is bigger than we have been accustomed to simulating all in one piece and then also our work with Oyster Card data on the London Tube where the records are pretty large – files of billion plus transactions. I will post the PDF here for the recent CUHK here . The Poly U PDF is here.

Cities, Environment and Sustainability


Hegel once said that ‘everything is connected to everything else’ and in our world of cities, this seems ever resonant with the problems that we face. Danny Hillis and Neri Oxman have called this the Age of Entanglement and in this workshop, myself, Susan Hanson from Clark University and Billie Turner from ASU as well as colleagues from the Chinese University,  Hong Kong University and the Baptist University explore how we develop themes that are wide and diverse and seemingly far apart but in fact are close in that we cannot explore one without the other. The title of the workshop centred around environment and sustainability and how cities are at this interface is a superb example of entanglement. Drill down here for the topics that will be/have been presented at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday 11th April 2016.