Friday, September 29, 2017

Urban Picture

Few cities are as photogenic as Barcelona from above #CatalanReferendum

Photo via City Describer

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Uber ban in London

This week, it was on the news that Uber will soon lose its license to operate in London since the local transport regulator ruled that Uber is "not fit and proper" to operate in city. This decision is not settled yet and it's probably  hopefully  going to be negotiated along the appeal process towards a middle-ground regulation. 

In the meantime, Tyler Cowen's has shared his views on why this is "a big brexit mistake". This is part of a much larger debate on whether/how governments should regulate the 'sharing economy', a debate which would need a careful discussion on transport regulation. A paper on this very topic just got recently published and it does a really good job at tackling the most important points in this debate. The paper is coauthored by top researchers from the Transport Studies Unit TSU/Oxford   I'm biased . This is a very timely discussion in Brazil, where the Congress will be creating a national regulation  scheme for ride hailing apps in the coming months (link in Portuguese).

Dudley, G., Banister, D., & Schwanen, T. (2017). The Rise of Uber and Regulating the Disruptive Innovator. The Political Quarterly.

The ride-hailing company Uber has achieved extremely rapid global expansion by means of outmanoeuvring governments, regulators and competitors. The rise of the company has been based on a deliberate strategy of acting as a market disruptive innovator through a user friendly technology and making use of the ‘sharing economy’. These attributes are not unique, but are distinctively augmented by a relentless expansionary ambition and an ability to maintain the capacity to innovate. Uber has generated great political controversy, but the challenge for governments and regulators is to embrace the benefits of the disruptive innovator, while adopting an approach that takes into account the full range of impacts. For Uber, the challenge is to maintain its expansionary style as a disruptive innovator, while also redefining on its terms the political and public debate. The case study of London provides important insights into the dynamics of these processes.

image credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Monday, September 25, 2017

Assorted Links

  1. The next time you have "a new idea no one's thought of before", read this list, be humble and go back to  Google  the library.

  2. This website helps you select a projection for your map (paper here)

  3. Mapping London’s “pseudo-public spaces,” spaces “that appear to be public but are... controlled by developers.” via Geoff Manaugh

  4. How One Brilliant Woman Mapped the Ocean Floor’s Secrets via Sabrina Lai, who is the creator/admin of a great group about Geographical analysis, urban modeling, spatial statistics on Facebook

  5. Infographic of the fascinating timeline of the far future via Tyler Cowen
    1. In a 100 million years from now: “Future archaeologists should be able to identify an ‘Urban Stratum’ of fossilized great coastal cities, mostly through the remains of underground infrastructure such as building foundations and utility tunnels.”.

  6. 100 greatest images of Saturn from its Cassini Mission

  7. Heads up for some great opportunities:
    1. University of California, Santa Barbara Department of Geography invites applications for a tenure-track position in spatial data science
    2. The Ohio State University, Department of Geography invites applications for a tenure track position with expertise in areas such as spatial-temporal data analytics, spatial simulation and modeling, cyberGIS and high performance computing, and/or geovisualization
    3. University of Texas St Antonio is hiring a tenure track/Associate demographer who works with big data

  8. Beautiful data visualization of music, by Nicholas Rougeux

    This is a data visualization of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. You should read it read clockwise.
    Size = note length
    Distance from center = pitch
    Colors = instruments.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Public transport and school location impacts on educational inequalities in Sao Paulo

In 2016, I had the opportunity to attend a session at the AAG conference where Ana Moreno-Monroy presented a very interesting paper analyzing inequalities in school accessibility by public transport  in Sao Paulo. The paper is coming out in the Journal of Transport Geography and it's coauthored by Robin Lovelace and Fred Ramos, such a great team. I should also note that a big chunk of the data analysis was conducted in R using stplanr, a library for transport planning developed by Robin and Richard Ellison and which is a major contribution to the field.

Moreno-Monroy, A. I., Lovelace, R., & Ramos, F. R. (2017). Public transport and school location impacts on educational inequalities: Insights from São Paulo. Journal of Transport Geography.

In many large Latin American urban areas such as the São Paulo Metropolitan Region (SPMR), growing social and economic inequalities are embedded through high spatial inequality in the provision of state schools and affordable public transport to these schools. This paper sheds light on the transport-education inequality nexus with reference to school accessibility by public transport in the SPMR. To assess school accessibility, we develop an accessibility index which combines information on the spatial distribution of adolescents, the location of existing schools, and the public transport provision serving the school catchment area into a single measure. The index is used to measure school accessibility locally across 633 areas within the SPMR. We use the index to simulate the impact of a policy aiming at increasing the centralisation of public secondary education provision, and find that it negatively affects public transport accessibility for students with the lowest levels of accessibility. These results illustrate how existing inequalities can be amplified by variable accessibility to schools across income groups and geographical space. The research suggests that educational inequality impacts of school agglomeration policies should be considered before centralisation takes place.

Figure 2. Visual representation of the 12,697 OD pairs routed through the Google Distance Matrix API on an interactive map in RStudio, an open source data analysis platform.

credit: Moreno-Monroy et al 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Biographical note: moving to Brasilia

In the next couple of days, my partner and I are moving back to  the lovely but car-dependent  Brasilia, in Brazil . We had a wonderful time in the UK after three years in Oxford and one year in Cambridge. I don't have the words to say how much I appreciate the privilege it was to live among such vibrant and global academic communities and how eye-opening this whole experience has been. Time has flown by and I am now returning to my researcher position at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea).

It feels bittersweet going back to Brazil for various reasons. Perhaps the most important of them is the fact that I haven't finished my PhD yet. I am close to the end, though, and I will soon post some updates about my research.

I also must say it is impossible not to feel disappointed with the economic and political situation in Brazil these days. Nonetheless, I am glad to go back to home, where evidence-based policy is so much needed and where I will keep expanding my (inter)national collaborations. I'm particularly glad that I am going back to a great institution where I can use what I've been learning during my PhD to do policy relevant research. Looking forward to next chapters  I need to finish my PhD first .

Home again

credit: the talented Joana França


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Urban Picture

Stunning construction photos of Zaha Hadid's Leeza SOHO tower, in Beijing. Photo by Satoshi Ohashi. Thanks Jeroen Apers for the pointer

Photo: Satoshi Ohashi

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The paradox of collective choice

In the early 1950s, Kenneth Arrow published his PhD thesis where he demonstrated that it does not exist a method of converting individual preferences into a single group preference that is not limited by a 'voting paradox' at some point. Here is a great video explaining in layman's terms how Arrow's impossibility theorem works.

Needless to say how important this idea is for social choice theory and that it gave Arrow a Nobel Prize in economics. Curious fact. Five of Arrow's former students have won the Nobel Prize.