Science of Cities Seminar Series

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The Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities together with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (as part of the module IM927 Digital Cities: Interdisciplinary Perspectivesand the Global Research Priority on Sustainable Cities are proud to host the Science of Cities Seminars in the academic year 2017-2018. This interdisciplinary event series will feature speakers from different backgrounds in academy and industry to discuss recent developments and innovative approaches to the use of digital technologies, “big data” and urban analytics to achieve more sustainable and smarter cities.

For Previous seminars, click here

Seminars for 2017-2018

























































































Professor Harvey Miller,

Ohio State University



Professor Alex Singleton,

University of Liverpool



Professor Fran Tonkiss,




Dr Benjamin Henning,

University of Iceland 



Mr Colin Armstrong,

Head of Security Policy UK

Space Agency


Mr Stephen Clarke,

Resolution Foundation 



Professor Martin Tironi,

Pontifical Catholic

University of Chile


Mr Stan Boland,




Professor Cheng Tao,

University College London



Jorieke Vyncke,

Médecins Sans Frontières 





Smart Cities: Big opportunities, big challenges 




Understanding Cities through Urban Analytics 




Knowledge and Inequality and the City 




Spatial Data Visualisation in the City:

Why Cartography Matters



City Resilience and Emergency Management




Social Disparity in the Labour Market in the UK 




Making a Low-carbon District: Tactical Urbanism and

Participatory Sensing in the "Idiotic City"



Autonomous Transportation in Complex European




Spatial-Temporal Analysis on City Crimes




Using crowdsource mapping in data scarce environments:

Community centred data creation for healthcare in Dhaka’s slums  




Video and Slides available here




No recording/slides available 




Available to University Members




Available to University Members




Available to University Members




Recording Available Here




Recording Available Here




No Recordings/Slides Available




Available to University Members




Available to University Members





Professor Harvey Miller, Ohio State University, 09/11/17

Smart cities attempt to make the movement of people and goods safer, greener and more equitable.  For example, the Columbus Smart City Project is reinventing mobility to provide better access to jobs and healthcare, more efficient logistics, greater connectivity for residents and visitors, and more sustainable transportation.  However, smart cities can also lead to unintended consequences such as increased vehicle miles traveled, higher pollution, more urban sprawl, higher social inequities, and segregated roadways that are unfriendly to pedestrians and cyclists.  In this presentation, Professor Miller gives an overview of the Columbus Smart City Project and discuss the science behind why smart cities can have bad as well as good outcomes.  He also talks about the new data sources and urban science that can shape smart cities toward better outcomes. 

Professor Harvey Singleton, University of Liverpool, 15/11/17

For many developed nations, an era of constrained census budgets and response rate decline in many national surveys are challenging for traditional Social Sciences who have relied upon these data sources to make sense of human behaviour and their contexts. In parallel, cities are increasingly awash with new and emerging forms of spatially explicit data, that within appropriately selected analytical frameworks can provide new insight into human dynamics, urban form and conditions; with often much greater spatio-temporal resolution than might have previously been attainable. However, such data are not a panacea for the understanding and management of future cities, and caution is needed in their use. Urban analytics is the multi-disciplinary area of research that is concerned with using such data alongside computational and statistical techniques to study cities. This talk will describe a range of case studies from within the Geographic Data Science Lab at the University of Liverpool and the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre.

Professor Fran Tonkiss, London School of Economics and Politics, 18/01/18

Fran Tonkiss is Professor of Sociology, and Deputy Head of Department. Her research and teaching is in the fields of urban and economic sociology. As an expert in urban sociology, her research interests focus on urban inequalities, urban development and design, social and spatial divisions, and the socio-economic organisation of urban space.  Publications in these fields include Cities by Design: the social life of urban form (Polity, 2013), Space, the City and Social Theory (Polity, 2005), and Contemporary Economic Sociology: Globalisation, Production, Inequality (Routledge, 2006). She is the co-author of Market Society: Markets and Modern Social Theory (Polity, 2001, with Don Slater), and co-editor of Trust and Civil Society (Macmillan, 2000, with Andrew Passey). She is currently managing editor of Economy and Society; she was previously an editor of the British Journal of Sociology, and remains a member of the editorial board.

Fran Tonkiss supervises doctoral students undertaking research on urban development, the economic and spatial structuring of cities, urban economies and inequalities.

Dr Benjamin Henning, University of Iceland, 25/01/18

Benjamin works on spatial data analysis and geovisualisation. His research interests include social and spatial inequalities, humanity's impact on Earth, global sustainability and new concepts for the visualisation of these issues. He is currently an assistant professor in Tourism Studies and Geography, University of Iceland.

He was educated at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Bremerhaven/Germany) where he conducted research on hyperspectral remote sensing applications in coastal ecosystems. After working as a research associate and departmental lecturer in human and urban geography at the Department of Geography, University of Cologne (Germany), he joined the Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group at the University of Sheffield (UK) in 2008 where he completed his PhD in 2011 as part of the Worldmapper project with research on visualising the social dimensions of our planet. He continued working at the Department of Geography in Sheffield before joining the University of Oxford as a Senior Research Fellow in 2013. In September 2016 he joined the University of Iceland and remains an Associate in the University of Oxford's School of Geography and the Environment.

Further information about his work can be found on his personal website.

Mr Colin Armstrong, UK Space Agency, 01/02/18

Many cities have felt the impact of natural disasters, and leaders have now committed to implement mitigation and adaptation measures to minimise these impacts. The lecture will introduce the Integrated Emergency Management, Government’s approach to assess the risks the UK faces over the next five years, and how to develop resilience to those risks with a focus on protecting the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure. It will look at how the Government responds to crises, and what role scientific advice plays in these situations. Recent representative events (Flooding in the UK in 2013/14, West Africa Ebola Outbreak 2014 and the Nepal Earthquake 2015) will be discussed from the decision making view.

Mr Stephen Clarke, Resolution Foundation, 08/02/18

Along with urbanisation in recent years, the social disparities in the UK’s labour market have become a prominent issue. This lecture will introduce the trends in earnings, employment and tax/benefits inequality in the UK. Existing data and associated challenges will be discussed, and the underlying causes of the phenomenon: “more work, and more ‘atypical’ work”.

Professor Martin Tironi, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, 22/02/18

Urbanisation is increasing much more rapidly in the global South. Many cities still struggle to provide basic services for all citizens. The lecture will discuss the human interaction and improvement of sustainable urban development, with a case study in Santiago, Chile. The case “Shared Streets for a Low-Carbon District”, implemented by the NGO Ciudad Emergente, in September 2016, tried to encourage citizen participation to a more sustainable mobility. It demonstrated how new ways of understanding urban space using smart devices should be not separated from the emergence of so-called “idiotic data”.

This talk will include theoretical discussion in relation to Smart Cities, the “experimental” and “citizen” dimensions of Smart Cities: STS perspective in participation (Marres, 2012), interventions of co-creation, inspired by tactical and prototype urbanism, peer-to-peer and do-it-yourself culture, and the notion of the “idiotic city”.

Mr Stan Boland, FiveAI, 23/02/18

FiveAI are developing an autonomous solution to urban transport that is trained on and safe in complex European cities. They will deploy their technology as a service that will revolutionise the way people travel, starting in London.  This talk is a high level view of our many areas of research, from low-level sensors through neural networks and computer vision, to prediction, driving, trajectory generation and control.  They will discuss some of the biggest research challenges and explain how it is that they can start to solve them and build a globally significant business as they do so.

Professor Cheng Tao, University College London, 01/03/18

Cities are complex systems. The lecture will discuss how to visualise the real-time crime data both spatially and temporally, for complexity social science research, and how to explore the corresponding crime patterns to shed light on policy making. Tao Cheng is a Professor in GeoInformatics at UCL whose research interests span network complexity, Geocomputation, space-time analytics and Big data mining (modelling, prediction, clustering, visualisation and simulation) with applications in transport, crime, health, social media, and natural hazards. She has published over 180 refereed papers, and secured research grants over £11 million in the UK, EU and China. She has worked with many industrial partners including Transport for London, the London Metropolitan Police and Arup. 

Jorieke Vyncke, Medécins Sans Frontières, 08/03/18

Planning basic urban services for vulnerable communities living in areas which are invisible on official and commercial online maps is a challenge. Jorieke Vyncke will talk about her experience of combining digital as well as off-line technologies to create data in partnership with communities in Dhaka’s poorest areas. She will also discuss the challenges, and how this process has transformed decision-making for health care provision in a marginalised urban sector.