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.

Space Syntax and Spatial Interaction

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Written a paper on how we can compare and even integrate space syntax with spatial interaction. You can get it here by clicking on this link or on the image above. This is based on the notion that we need to develop a way of disentangling the underlying planar graph of the street network into components that when put together either lead to operations on the planar graph itself as in spatial interaction or on the dual of this graph between the streets which is the graph used in space syntax. The link is obvious when developed in this way but the ways of integration are somewhat convoluted. We develop these ideas for some simple hypothetical graphs and make comparisons of the various accessibilities associated with these graphs which appear both in space syntax and spatial interaction. We then develop a semi-real application using data on the nearest neighbour generic graph for Greater London and this reveals the problems of specifying this graph in the first place. Our comparisons with real data are disappointing for many obvious reasons but what I think this paper does is throw light on space syntax and on ideas about accessibility, suggesting that we need a sustained effort to develop the right sorts of underlying graphs from which space syntax can be developed. We are only at the beginning of the process and in space syntax, we have not really explored the properties of the underlying graphs in any depth hitherto. This establishes directions for further research. Click here for the paper.

Sao Paulo, Brasil: Acessível para quem?

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Joana Barros and Mike Batty write about their work on the BBC Brasil Web Site. Read their article here which is about how transport segregates people rather than linking them together in cities in Latin America such as Sao Paulo. This is from their ESRC Resolution Project with Chen Zhong and Duncan Smith where they are comparing Sao Paulo with London and working with the group at the University of Sao Paulo and INPE.