Notes for today’s talk at the NLA’s conference on “How do we build a smarter London“
The London context:
- more people (growing population)
– more data (sensors everywhere)
– more sophisticated computing.
Strategic problem: how to handle it all.
Space Syntax’s experience: address the problem via “the questions of reality”.
The commercial application of Space Syntax research was catalysed by approaches from London residents in the early/mid 1980s eg Limehouse Basin, South Bank, King’s Cross: citizens groups opposing property developments they saw as being alien to London life. Today we work for those developers as well as community groups. Developers have learned to “get it”.
Data and computing create an art of the possible (sometimes the seemingly impossible too eg the wonderful Pigeon Sim). Pass the art of the possible through the filter of reality/market demand. Then it’s possible to make sense of it all – to know what to do.
The questions asked by our clients are the necessary filter.
Then evolve the technology according to new and difficult questions.
This is what we had to do to understand Trafalgar Square – we’d never studied such a complex open space before.
Technology by necessity.
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Good morning. It is a pleasure and an honour to have been invited to give this presentation today at the Nikkei Smart City Week conference. The subject of my talk is architecture – not only the architecture of buildings but, also, the architecture of public space: the space that we move through and live our lives in; the glue that binds us together.
In the first part of my presentation I will address three key questions:
First, what is a Smart City?
Second, how can a Smart City be planned & governed?
Third, where is the place for technology in the Smart City?
And I will relate each of these questions to the architecture of space.
In the second part of my presentation I will describe the very significant effort that the UK is making to plan for its urban future, embracing the opportunities that new technologies provide.
In the third part of my presentation I will describe the use of computer modelling techniques in the creation of the London 2012 urban masterplanning process. Continue reading The spatial architecture of the SMART city
Good afternoon Governor Patrick, visiting delegates and colleagues from the UK. As a recent resident of Massachusetts myself, it is a special pleasure to speak alongside the Governor on the subject of data and cities: and to share some remarks on the common interest in this room: the science of cities.
A few words about me: I am an architect and an urban planner in private practice. My company, Space Syntax is a consulting company that specialises in predictive analytics - using data science to forecast the impact of urban planning decisions – the “what goes where and how does it all connect together” – on urban impacts such as mobility, interaction, wealth, health and personal safety. Continue reading Integrated Urbanism – Massachusetts & the United Kingdom Partnership Forum
Cities planning their future are increasingly turning to the production of Integrated Urban Models. These are tools that bring together various datasets on different asoects of urban performance, from the behaviour of people to the flows of energy, water and other utilities. The aim is to better predict the future of cities by better understanding how they are currently working.
This is a nascent but rapidly developing field in which knowledge is emerging and evolving at a pace. Given the complexity of cities it is a good idea to involve many specialists in different subjects, led by an Urban Modelling Advisory Panel (UrbanMAP). Continue reading Building a Smart City modelling team
Smart Cities are smart in two ways. First, they harness technologies to improve the way that urban places are led and managed. Second, they create better outcomes for the people that use them. This two-pronged approach applies to all aspects of Smart Cities.
When it comes to the planning and design of Smart Cities, technology can improve:
1. the performance of the places that are produced by planning and design (the outcomes)
2. the processes involved in creating plans and designs (the inputs).
A Smart City approach should direct the capabilities of urban planners and designers to:
1. facilitate effective human transaction in new and existing places
2. provide access to places of transaction, both physical and digital: on-land and on-line
3. support the mobility required to access these places of transaction by providing networks of connectivity for all modes of transport, both physical (walking cycling rolling driving) and digital
4. take an outcomes-oriented (ie transactions & emissions) approach first and foremost, aware of the inputs required (ie materials, energy & mobility) to achieve these desired objectives
5. provide effective analytic and forecasting tools aimed at social economic and environmental impacts.
I’ve written before about the benefits of using science-based models in the planning and design process. I’ve raised concerns about the frequent lack of objective analysis in urban and building projects, and the risks this creates in decision-taking. Basing important decisions on gut instinct and experience, then willing on success with little more than hype, just isn’t good enough.
Here is a diagram that summarises Space Syntax’s approach to urban modelling. It’s a staged process: collecting datasets; analysing them to identify relationships between urban form and urban performance; drawing out key issues and developing creative ideas – all the time using the model to test proposals. The approach is transparent and communicative – helping stakeholders participate in the process and, most importantly, helping people take decisions that lead to actions and changed behaviours.
It’s more than a pipedream – we’ve been using the model on projects for over 25 years, evolving it through continuous application. And we’ll continue to do so, adapting to the ever richer data context that digital urbanism provides.
And always remembering that the ultimate objective is the creation of behaviour change to the benefit of human wealth, health and education.
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