Then and Now

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In November 1986 I visited SunYatSen University and gave a public lecture about Urban Modelling. China was a very different world then, no cars, no computers, no email, barely functioning electricity. And of course it was before laptops, networks, hand-held devices and so on. The personal computer had only just been invented. The campus was more or less in the countryside. Despite China opening up in 1979, this was still the old China.

Fast forward 31 years to 2017. The University is now a power house, in the top 10 in China and advancing in the QS university rankings worldwide very rapidly. Since 1986, I have been there a number of times but I never gave any more public lectures until last Tuesday and Wednesday when I more or less repeated what I had talked about 31 years ago. Well not quite, of course; it was the same domain of interest and in the same lineage – but I talked about web-based, large-scale urban models, ideas about big data, smart cities and so on. A world away from those distant years but closely linked intellectually.

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There are no faculty left still working in the School of Geography and Planning from those years but this is not unusual because there is no one left in any of the universities I have worked in before 1990. And it is a little sad that of those who were students then and now senior faculty there, none could remember attending my lecture and I am sure they did not know of it but there were about 130 in the room at the time. I found the building I had lectured in largely because of the poster above which was hand painted for my 1986 visit. Those of you who are Chinese will be able to read this.

Here are the pdfs of the presentations I gave:

Click on these and enjoy.

Modelling World 2016: Complexity in Land Use Transport Models

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Giving a paper on Thursday 2nd June in London at Modelling World. Talking about Complexity in Land Use Transport Interaction (LUTI) Modelling, outlining very briefly our QUANT model for the Future Cities Catapult. This model is designed to simulate employment population and the interactions between and the constraints imposed on development for all of England and Wales at the scale of middle layer super output areas. There are 7201 such areas in E&W so to the scale is pretty typical of LUTI models. The model is web-based meaning that you can run it from anywhere and it is designed for anyone in E&W to explore the impact of changes in employment and population, networks time and costs and also land use constraints. Why only E&W? Well we are working in getting Scotland into it but the data is a little different when it comes to the journey to work and related census geographies.

It is early days as yet and we are still very much in the experimental stage of building this – it is in fact a proof of concept – to show we can build tools that are applicable to everywhere – and so far there are very few models like this one. We are stretching the state of the art in that the model, the data and the user(s) all interact with each other across servers and clients. The data and storage and speed implications of all this are pretty immense. More on this once we develop it further. I will post the talk after I have written it but before the session on June 2nd at 16-30pm at the Oval. Drill down for the content of the meeting etc. And here for my PDF of the talk which is hard to see in the meeting

Mobility, Transit and Big Data

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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.