Monday, April 29, 2019

New Center for Demographic Science at Oxford

Oxford University has recently launched the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science (they are also on Twitter). The center is led by Melinda Mills and it involves a team with several top researchers dedicated to seven interconnected research programmes:

1. Nowcasting: digital and computational demography
2. Environmental context, demography and climate change
3. Inequality and diversity
4. Sociogenomics: nature and nurture
5. Causal demography
6. Demography, society and global sustainability
7. Ethics, truth and trust

*** The other good news is that they are hiring Assistant Professors and Postdocs. The center also offers scholarships for Masters and PhD students.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The global population pyramid from 1950 to 2100

New piece by Max Roser in Our World in Data, showing how global demography has changed and what we can expect for the 21st century.

In this figure below, curves in blue to green show how the global population pyramid changed from 1950 to today, while shades of yellow show the UN projections for the change expected until 2100.

click on the image to see full size

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

The rapid growth of shared bikes and e-scooters in the US

In 2018, people took 84 million trips using shared bikes and e-scooters in the US, an astounding growth in the past year largely due to e-scooters. This number and many other interesting stats come from a new report looking at Shared Micromobility in the US in 2018, recently published by the US National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Hat tip to Tim Papandreou.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Collaborative mapping of paratransit and GTFS data

Jacqueline Klopp (Twitter) and Clemence Cavoli (Twitter) have a new paper reviewing some trends in transportation planning in African cities with a focus on paratransit. The paper also discusses why official transportation planning should engage with paratransit services and how this task can be supported through collaborative mapping projects that open new avenues for data accountability.

The paper is open access (see link below) and it draws attention to, an initiative working "to scale up these mapping efforts and promote open data and sharing, open source tools and exchange and learning between African cities to build local data infrastructure, eco-systems and local capacities". Thanks to this initiative, one can easily find for example the GTFS data of cities such as Nairobi, Maputo, Accra and Cairo and others. Jackie and others are working to build a similar initiative in Latin America and I hope I will soon bring more info about this. Stay tuned.

Klopp, J. M., & Cavoli, C. (2019). Mapping minibuses in Maputo and Nairobi: engaging paratransit in transportation planning in African cities. Transport Reviews, 1-20.

Often called paratransit because of their flexible stops, schedules and routes, minibuses make up the bulk of public transport in African cities. Despite their ubiquity and importance, these systems are poorly understood by transportation planners who tend to focus on large-scale urban infrastructure projects such as highways, commuter rail or bus rapid transit systems. The assumption within much of this planning is that these minibus systems are barriers to change and will become at most secondary “feeder” buses within large-scale projects, but structured plans detailing this vision are lacking. This paper argues that frequent failure to collect data and value important paratransit systems as a critical part of transportation in their own right is deeply problematic from the point of view of equity, access and inclusive and effective planning. We ask whether the growing number of bottom up mapping projects of minibus systems can disrupt this status quo. By comparing two mapping projects, Digital Matatus in Nairobi and the Mapa Dos Chapas in Maputo, we find that inclusive, collaborative mapping can help render these minibuses more visible in planning and provoke more grounded and inclusive “planning conversations” on multi-modal integration, passenger information and minibus upgrading, all key but relatively marginalised aspects of creating accessible, low emission, high quality and safe public transport in African cities.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Biographical note: AAG PhD thesis award

I am very pleased to share that my PhD thesis was awarded the best 2019 thesis award by the Transportation Geography Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). I am also very honoured that I was nominated a board member of the specialty group. If it could be of interest, my thesis is available for download here and I've created a GitHub repository with the R code used in the data wrangling, mapping and analysis in the thesis. Some of the chapters in the dissertation have been published as papers here, here and here (+ this other one currently under review).

I am very grateful for the the support from my partner Fabiana, from the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) and to the invaluable guidance from my  demanding  tireless supervisors Tim Schwanen and David Banister

ps. the blog has been less active than usual in the past weeks because I was away attending the AAG annual meeting to receive the award and to present this paper here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

off-topic: The first-ever picture of a black hole

Just a few years ago, Katie Bouman (then a PhD student at MIT) presented this TED talk about the massive collective research effort involved in the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. Three years latter, today, this collaboration announced the first-ever picture of a black hole. Katie led the creation of a new imaging algorithm that helped make this possible.

Yep, they have found a way to register the image of a black hole that is about 55 million light years away from Earth. The method is truly inventive, involving an array of telescopes across the globe, atomic clocks, cutting edge machine learning and more than 5 petabytes of data. You can see more about it in this short video or in the public announcement made today.

I know this is a bit off-topic in this blog but my inner nerd child is too excited to let this one pass. This is a big day.

Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration