Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Off to the UK

I'm off to the UK to participate in my graduation ceremony at Oxford and to celebrate my partner's graduation at  Cambridge  the other place. Really excited because both our parents will be there to celebrate with us. Yep, this will require some serious diplomatic skills, though :)

My graduation will happen this Saturday, on July 13th between 11am and 12pm. So, you will be able to see a bunch of academics weirdly dressed wondering around Oxford at 12pm on that day. You can actually see this through the live webcam of the Oxford Martin School in case you really need something to procrastinate with.

ps. Blog activity will be low over the next couple of weeks but you'll probably see me Tweeting regularly while I'm queuing for something somewhere in England.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

We're hiring research assistants to work with Spatial Data Science at Ipea

A few readers might be interested in this post. We are hiring 4 research assistants to work with (spatial) data science on urban, regional and environmental research and policies at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea), in Brasília. Great team with lots of computational resources, rich data sets and plenty of challenging data analyses to improve public policies.

*** All the positions are based in Brasília, Brazil.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Music for the weekend

Soundtrack for a weekend of good bye to João Gilberto, one of the fathers of Bossa Nova. A Brazilian giant.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The winners and losers of the transport legacy of megaevents

Summarizing the core elements of one's research to communicate with a wide audience is among the most challenging and yet important aspects of what researchers do. Here's my best attempt so far to summarize my PhD research to a broad audience, published in my favorite online newspaper Nexo. The text is in Portuguese.

image credit: Nexo

Monday, July 1, 2019

geobr: shapefiles and official spatial data sets of Brazil in R

In 2012, I published here a blog post about where to find shapefiles of Brazil. Since then, this has become one of the most popular posts in 9 years of the blog. However, the links to the original data sets change every now and then, and it gets a bit tricky to find the most up to date data. My team and I at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) have created geobr, an R package that allows users to easily access shapefiles of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and other official spatial data sets of Brazil.

The geobr package currently includes a variety of data sets, such as the shapefiles of municipalities and states (from 1872 to 2018), census weighting areas, a spatial grid with population count at a resolution of 200 x 200 meters, a geolocated database of health facilities in the country etc. All the data sets are read into R as sf data. We will gradually add other databases to the package, but feel free to make specific requests and suggestions by opening new issues on the GitHub page of geobr or tweeting the hashtag #geobr.

The advantage of geobr: Intuitive syntax that provides easy and quick access to a wide variety shapefiles and official spatial data sets with updated geometries for various years using harmonazied attributes and geographic projections across geographies and years.

Here is a quick intro to geobr:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Interactive visualization of large-scale spatial data sets in R

In the beginning, there were only static maps. Over the past years we have seen the creation of new packages like mapview and mapedit that allow one to interactively visualize and edit spatial data in R. Despite these developments, it was still a bit tricky to visualize large spatial data sets in R. Not anymore.

Two packages that are pushing our capabilities to interactively visualize large-scale spatial data sets in R:

Hats off to these two! 👏👏👏



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

9th Anniversary of Urban Demographics !

Today is the 9th Anniversary of Urban Demographics. I must say the blog has never been as quiet as in the past year. This is due to various reasons. I focused a lot of my time over the past year in finishing my PhD, getting back to work on project/paper collaborations that had been on hold for a long time and perhaps I spent too much time travelling. Sorry, family. Sorry, planet. Personally and professionally, though, it has been an incredible year. I've finally became a doctor (1st in the family, Mom was very proud), I received awards from the AAG and the ITF/OECD, got a few studies published, I've met a bunch of incredible people, and started a few new projects that I'm very excited about and which I'll be sharing here in due time.

Nowadays, I spend less time  procrastinating  working on the blog than on Twitter, which I find an increasingly rich source of dog pictures information and interaction with other researchers. In the end, the blog has been a bit quite but I still find it incredibly useful to share interesting studies, data, links etc. By the stats of the blog, I'm glad to see a few people still find it useful too. Here are just some quick stats that show a summary of the blog over the past year.

and 10 of my favorite posts:

Where do readers come from? (140 countries | 2,598 Cities)
  1. United States (32.3%)
  2. Brazil (13%)
  3. United Kingdom (6.3%)
  4. Australia (3.5%)
  5. Canada (3.4%)

Friday, June 21, 2019

Who pollutes and who gets exposed to road traffic-related air pollution in the UK

In 2003, Gordon Mitchell and Danny Dorling published "An environmental justice analysis of British air quality", a widely cited paper that became a key reference in the environmental justice literature. Now, 16 years latter, a new paper by Joanna Barnes (Twitter), Tim Chatterton (Twitter) and James Longhurst update the original study with new data and more in depth analysis on the social inequalities in traffic-related pollution exposure and emission.

Barnes, J. H., Chatterton, T. J., and; Longhurst, J. W. (2019). Emissions vs exposure: Increasing injustice from road traffic-related air pollution in the United Kingdom. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 73, 56-66.

This paper presents unique spatial analyses identifying substantial discrepancies in traffic-related emissions generation and exposure by socioeconomic and demographic groups. It demonstrates a compelling environmental and social injustice narrative with strong policy implications for the UK and beyond.
In the first instance, this research presents a decadal update for England and Wales to Mitchell and Dorling’s 2003 analysis of environmental justice in the UK. Using 2011 UK Government pollution and emissions data with 2011 UK Census socioeconomic and demographic data based on small area census geographies, this paper demonstrates a stronger relationship between age, poverty, road NOxemissions and exposure to NO2 concentrations. Areas with the highest proportions of under-fives and young adults, and poorer households, have the highest concentrations of traffic-related pollution.
In addition, exclusive access to UK annual vehicle safety inspection records (‘MOT’ tests) allowed annual private vehicle NOx emissions to be spatially attributed to registered keepers. Areal analysis against Census-based socioeconomic characteristics identified that households in the poorest areas emit the least NOxand PM, whilst the least poor areas emitted the highest, per km, vehicle emissions per household through having higher vehicle ownership, owning more diesel vehicles and driving further.
In conclusion, the analysis indicates that, despite more than a decade of air quality policy, environmental injustice of air pollution exposure has worsened. New evidence regarding the responsibility for generation of road traffic emissions provides a clear focus for policy development and targeted implementation.

Related post:

credit: Barnes et al 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

Assorted links

  1. 25% of students think they are in the top 1% of social skills. 94% of professors think their work is better than their peers. The Social Psychology of Biased Self-Assessment (ht Leo Monasterio)

  2. What happened when New York City (randomly) increased street lighting? Crime fell by 36% as a direct result. HT John B. Holbein ‏, who is great at finding this kind of gems by the way.

  3. Sacred Spaces: a series on modernist churches' by Thibaud Poirier, HT Darran Anderson

  4. Interesting report comparing housing in London , New York City, Paris and Tokyo, by Jim Gleeson. Some key results summarized in this short thread.

  5. The power of a single book. Beautiful metaphor for how ideas can have real impact

  6. The data that was missing in your research: an incredibly detailed 3-D maps of the lunar surface

  7. Microsoft Researchers trained a neural network to analyze satellite imagery and generate the footprints of 125,192,184 building in all 50 US states. The data are available on GitHubGreat coverage in the NYT, by Tim Wallace et al.

image credit: NYT

The suburbs of Mesa, Arizona

image credit: NYT

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What The Simpsons got right about Transport Planning

Many of you will remember that "Marge vs the Monorail" episode of The Simpsons*. Juliet Eldred has written a hilarious and thoughtful Twitter thread about how this episode encapsulates a lot of the common issues in Transportation Asset Management faced by transport agencies. Good food for thought about the dynamics of policy decision making, the creation of white elephants, and how routine maintenance gets sidestepped by the  hype of 'new' technologies and capital investment. This story speaks a lot to recent transport projects worldwide, including the silly idea of Elon Musk's tunnel project.

* If you haven't watched it before, waste no more time. Watch it here. You're welcome :)