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Visualizing Aggregate Movement in Cities

Batty, M; (2018) Visualizing Aggregate Movement in Cities. Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences , 373 (1753) , Article 20170236. 10.1098/rstb.2017-0236. Green open access

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We argue here that despite the focus in cities on location and place, it is increasingly clear that a requisite understanding of how cities evolve and change depends on a thorough understanding of human movements at aggregate scales where we can observe emergent patterns in networks and flow systems. We argue that the location of activities must be understood as summations or syntheses of movements or flows, with a much clearer link between flows, activities and the networks that carry and support them. To this end, we introduce a generic class of models that enable aggregated flows of many different kinds of social and economic activity, ranging from the journey to work to email traffic, to be predicted using ideas from discrete choice theory in economics which has analogies to gravitation. We also argue that visualization is an essential construct in making sense of flows but that there are important limitations to illustrating pictorially systems with millions of component parts. To demonstrate these, we introduce a class of generic spatial interaction models and present two illustrations. Our first application is based on transit flows within the high-frequency city over very short time periods of minutes and hours for data from the London Underground. Our second application scales up these models from districts and cities to the nation, and we demonstrate how flows of people from home to work and vice versa define cities and related settlements at much coarser scales. We contrast this approach with more disaggregate, individual studies of flow systems in cities that we consider an essential complement to the ideas presented here. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Interdisciplinary approaches for uncovering the impacts of architecture on collective behaviour’.

Type: Article
Title: Visualizing Aggregate Movement in Cities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017-0236
Publisher version: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: movement, transport networks, flows, subway systems, cities and settlements, interactions
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048127
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