Plotting Every Crash on Every Road 1999-2010

Jason Dykes showed this at the GeoVisualisation Meeting in Oxford on August 30th: A map of road crashes in Great Britain (not the UK) from 1999 to 2010. It mirrors of course the road network and the density of population but it is a remarkable graphic.

It was made by the BBC and first published on 2nd December 2011. Apologies to those who have seen it but it resonates with quite a lot of stuff on the SIMULACRA blog including Jon Reades and Joan Serras visualisations of network traffic and flows in London and GB. There is a nice movie of all this and you can zoom into different parts of the Great Britain Map.

Pulse of the City (reboot)

As I get to better grips with the full richness of the Oyster data set and the complexity of the TfL network it’s gradually getting easier to build better visualisations. One of the ones that I’ve wanted to revisit for quite some time was my original ‘pulse of the city’ animation (you can see it here).

I’ll discuss some of the issues encountered in creating this video at a later date, so for now just enjoy:

A Week in the Life of London’s Public Transit System

I’ve been meaning to post this for ages but have had a great deal on my plate (more posts and visualisations to follow in the next week I hope) so this has kept slipping, together with the six or seven other ‘draft’ posts I’ve got going.

Anyway, this visualisation shows average entries at each and every Underground, Overground, and DLR station over the course of a week using a 10-minute interval. So in theory there are some 300 * 7 * 24 * 6 data points in this image. Or 43,200 for those of you who, like me, are having difficulty with the mental arithmetic. Of course, I’ve deliberately gone for an artistic angle to this image so you’ll find nary a scale barnor a station label, but I hope that you enjoy puzzling out the approximate ordering within each group of lines.

The rest of the text (which is too fuzzy in the raster format) reads:

The poster shows every entry to each of London’s 330 Underground, Overground and Docklands Light Railway stations over the course of a week. Stations are coloured according to the lines that they serve. A station that serves more than one line will appear more than once on the poster. During rush hour, there may be more than 8,000 entries to a single station in just 10 minutes!

For those who are interested in the mechanics of how it was made: I pulled the aggregate data from a MySQL database, generated the base graph in Python (a big ‘thank you’ to @FryRSquared for that), and then resized the chart and added the text in Illustrator. So, with the exception of that last it’s not a bad day for Free/OS software!

Also, clearly a big ‘thank you’ too to Transport for London and, in particular, the Oyster card team who are making all of this fun work possible.

We hope to have two poster-sized versions available via print-on-demand in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned!

Big Data, Complexity, Networks at the German Physical Society


Full Details of the Meeting are Here

Various people from UCL and Kings are contributing to this meeting in Berlin. Mike Batty from CASA is talking on how cities and their evident complexity require big data which is rapidly becoming available, Phil Treleavan from CS at UCL is talking about experimental computational finance in a bid data environment, Tiziana de Matteo from Kings is talking about embedding high dimensional data on networks, and there are many other talks, including Gene Stanley on interdependent networks and switching phenomena. Gene was the first visitor we ever had at CASA and he came with Hernan Makse in January 1996 when I (Mike) was the only employee and we were working still on DLA models. We wrote a paper on this which was in Physical Review E in 1999 and as Gene had written with George Weiss who had written with Joseph Gillis who in turn had co-authored a paper with Paul Erdos, that makes my (Mike’s) Erdos Number 4!! But tens of thousands of people have this number. It’s a small world after all.



Understanding and Managing Complex Systems, 5 March 2012

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) are organising this seminar on 5th March 2012 starting at 9-30am at Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, the Netherlands.


Mike Batty is talking about Complexity in Cities: Are Cities Becoming More and More Complex?, Martin Novak is talking about Evolving Cooperation,  Dan Braha about Physical Complexity in Socio-Economic Systems, Kees Stam about Crises in the Brain. What Can We Learn from Modern Network Theory?

Complexity Theory in Cities

Here is a  new book on complexity and cities entitled “Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age: An Overview with Implications to Urban Planning and Design” edited by Juval Portugali, Han Meyer, Egbert Stolk and Ekim Tan with the intriguing title that what we do has come of age. Well maybe, maybe not, I leave you to be the judge of that. But it does represent a sea change. The book has a wide cast of authors and the focus is on implications for urban planning and design. My own contribution written with Stephen Marshall reviews the origins of the field, returning to Geddes, Jacobs and Alexander, and is entitled: The Origins of Complexity Theory in Cities and Planning”. Amongst those contributing are Hermann Halken, Peter Allen, Nikos Salingaros, Bill Hillier, Jeff Johnson, Hans Meyer, Egbert Stolk, Ekim Tan, Denise Pumain, Harry Timmermans, Stephen Read, Ward Rauws, Carl Gershensen, Dirk Sijmons, Theodore Zamenopolous, Katerina Alexiou, Michael Bitterman, Sevil Sarijildiz, Ozer Ciftcioglu, and of course Juval Portugali. Hope I haven’t left anyone out.

Juval Portugalihas also written a fascinating book called Complexity, Cognition and the City, recently published too by Springer and this is also essential reading. Books are coming thick and fast on the complexity viewpoint as it is being applied to cities. There is a sense that these foundations will last somewhat longer than the earlier attempts 40-50 years ago involving a Systems Theory of Cities, largely because complexity theory is a much broader church, with wide implications for how we approach the development of ideas, innovations and knowledge in post-industrial society.

Martin Dodge, ex-CASA, wins AAG Meridian Prize for his Book Code/Space

Martin was an RA in CASA and then lecturer from 1996 to 2004. He is now Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Manchester. He coauthored the book with another friend of CASA, ROb Kitchin of NUI. Here is the citation

On behalf of the Association of American Geographers, …, Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life, published by MIT Press, has been selected to receive the 2011 AAG Meridian Book Award for the Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography.  This distinction recognizes one book published last year that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography.

 In selecting your book, the committee wrote:  “We feel it pushed the envelope as it explained the linkages between software and human behavior in a spatial context.  This book articulates how space and software have become so intertwined that they constitute one another in our lives. It is one of the rare books that link critical social theories with technology and philosophy. Using everyday spaces, it demonstrates how such spaces are transformed by code and how new spaces of interactions are recreated. It is the type of book that can interface with many different disciplines. It is one of the few geography books taking the technology and the potential in reconstituting space seriously.”

Open Data & Visualisation


In one of the more unusual invitations that I’ve received over the past few years, I was asked to speak about visualisation and open data at Transport Ticketing 2012, currently happening down in South Ken. Interestingly, in spite of my various posts on visualisation and work with a variety of companies on the spatial aspects of their ‘big data’, I’d not really thought a great deal about the open aspect.

So I’ve taken the opportunity to try to pull together my thoughts not only on the relationship between the two, but also on why companies should be actively exploring whether and how to make available to others aspects of their operational data. I’ve grouped the talk into four areas: why should companies open up their data in the first place? to whom should they open it up once the business case exists? what data should be made accessible? how should they go about opening it up? and, finally, by way of a wrap-up, what are the potential costs and benefits that could be realised?

Although this talk is focussed on transportation visualisations, I think that many of the same ideas apply to other domains as well and hope that you find the PDF thought-provoking no matter what your line of work.

London (Re)generation AD: Architectural Design

The Bartlett’s Michael Batty, Matthew Carmona, Edward Denison, Murray Fraser, Matthew Gandy, and Hilary Powell all feature in current issue of Architectural Design, a lively, thought-provoking exploration of the contemporary regeneration of London, edited by David Littlefield.


Plans to regenerateEast Londonand transform the capital are integral to the vision of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This issue brings into focus notions of regeneration within the specific context ofLondon: what does the term actually mean, how has it been applied and is it being applied? Historical overviews of large-scale interventions from the past are combined with case studies of new and planned schemes, and explorations of how change and rejuvenation can retain or enhance the city’s unique sense of place and identity. Looking beyond the Games, the various contributions will look at the direction in which regeneration is going in a post-recession economy. How can a long-established, highly protected and even cherished city, likeLondon, continue to renew and expand? Unlike Chinese or Middle Eastern cities, London is constrained by a wide range of factors from heritage protection and geography to finance and democratic accountability; yet the city continues to grow, change and develop, either incrementally or through big, dramatic leaps, like the Olympic Park and King’s Cross. In this way,Londonprovides a fascinating case study of how a developed, Western city can negotiate and greet the pressures for change.

 Mike’s paper is called Urban Regeneration as Self-Organisation and we have posted it before – click here – and as soon as we get an online version, up it will go. His paper is on his weblog

Simulating the Spread of Infectious Diseases in Large Cities

Anders Johansson, Mike Batty and colleagues’ paper in The Lancet Infectious Diseases is published online today. There they are exploring how models for simulating crowds can be extended to deal with the spread of infectious diseases in  high density environments.


Details of the paper follow:

The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Early Online Publication, 16 January 2012

doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70287-0Cite or Link Using DOI

Crowd and environmental management during mass gatherings

Dr Anders Johansson PhD a b , Prof Michael Batty PhD a, Konrad Hayashi MD c, Osama Al Bar PhD d, David Marcozzi MD e, Prof Ziad A Memish MD f g

Crowds are a feature of large cities, occurring not only at mass gatherings but also at routine events such as the journey to work. To address extreme crowding, various computer models for crowd movement have been developed in the past decade, and we review these and show how they can be used to identify health and safety issues. State-of-the-art models that simulate the spread of epidemics operate on a population level, but the collection of fine-scale data might enable the development of models for epidemics that operate on a microscopic scale, similar to models for crowd movement. We provide an example of such simulations, showing how an individual-based crowd model can mirror aggregate susceptible—infected—recovered models that have been the main models for epidemics so far.

Older posts «