Our recent Urban Dynamics Lab policy network workshop on ‘Driving growth across the whole country? Place-based policymaking and spatial analytics’ saw project partners from different professional domains, including Future Cities Catapult, Centre for Cities, Core Cities, ONS, telefonica, GLA, new economy manchester, West Midlands Combined Authority, Milton Keynes Council, Black Country Consortium, EPSRC, Space Syntax and the Alan Turing Institute, come together to discuss the role of place in constituting the differing socio-economic, demographic, industrial, and human and social capital trajectories that shape the so-called regional imbalances across the UK. The day took the industrial strategy green paper as a departure point for discussion, which aims to devise a set of central policies, funding streams and capital projects to increase productivity across the country, while groups such as the Regional Studies Association and Core Cities, have recommended a more place-based industrial strategy that considers place-specific factors and challenges across its ten pillars, but also enables localities to deliver strategies for inclusive growth.

Our Co-Investigators summed up their thoughts on the industrial strategy to start the programme of the day: Principal Investigator and Dean of The BartlettProf Alan Penn in particular talked about the role of identity in shaping place, while Prof Sir Alan Wilson, Chief Executive of the Alan Turing Institute stressed the regional and urban embeddedness of sectors and the importance of linking this to investment in skills, innovation and SMEs locally. Prof Mike Batty, Chairman of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, emphasised the importance of a spatial dimension in the industrial and demographic make-up of the regions and its relation to infrastructure between localities, but particularly stressed the need for better venture capital for innovation and SMEs across the country. Prof Paul Longley, Director of the Consumer Data Research Centre called for a strategic investment in data infrastructure to properly enable institutions, public sector and the private sector to support growth and developed that is data-led and evidence-based, as well as place-specific.

In showcasing a variety of techniques and methods in spatial analysis across UCL Geography, CASA and Space Syntax, the urban dynamics lab team gave insight into data-led, emergent functional area and network approaches in analysing notions of place and the role this plays in understanding their peculiarities, challenges and interdependencies.

Prof Mike Batty: QUANT


Prof Mike Batty
, Chairman of the Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis, presented on a number of scenarios in our partner cities and city regions, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Milton Keynes developed through the QUANT tool, designed to model the impacts of large scale transport infrastructures and simulating spatial effects. Given various changes in employment and transport, the models redistribute population (and other activities if so prescribed) so that the impact on the spatial distributions of where people live can be predicted, and is indicative of how cities respond to new growth and decline.

Dr Ashley Dhanani: Pedestrian demand model

Dr Ashley Dhanani, Research Associate at Space Syntax Laboratory, presented on a pedestrian demand model, developed with and by Transport for London, and its applications in Health and Infrastructure Planning. The model, currently being extended to national level, calculates measures of street network centrality, land use diversity and intensity, public transport accessibility and residential density, using London Travel Demand Survey data, with results showing a highly significant positive relationship between pedestrian activity and four measures above.


 Dr Duccio Piovani: Spatial Interaction models for urban planning
Dr Duccio Piovani, Research Associate at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, presented on the versatility in use of spatial interaction models for urban planning, describing how flows of people relate to patterns of demand and opportunity in the zones of a city, and can be modelled for instance in relation to employment or retail, illustrated here by an example on the evolution of retail locations in London, as well as spatial patterns of employment accessibility in Manchester through journey to work trip distribution.

Dr Clementine Cottineau: Intra-urban trajectories of firms


Dr Clementine Cottineau, Research Associate at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, showcased her work on intra-urban trajectories of firms, using the Business Structure Database from 2000 to 2015, which contains details on turnover, employment, industry, postcode at enterprise level, and of industry, postcode at local unit level. Through this, Clementine was able to investigate the overall patterns of industrial specialisation at city level through the Shannon Entropy index, the size, shape and evolution of the economic clusters, and the spatio-temporal trajectories of enterprises.

UCL Geography: Dr Jens Kandt, Dr Tian Lan, Prof Paul Longley:
Understanding urban dynamics through consumer data


The Geography team, including Research Associates Dr Jens Kandt and Dr Tian Lan, along with Prof Paul Longley, presented on ‘Understanding urban dynamics through consumer data’, using a combination of 1881 Censuses Electoral Roll data (1998-2003) and Consumer Register data (2007-2013) to estimate surname geographies in order to analyse phenomena such as local population change and ethnic segregation. Dr Jens Kandt’s presentation showed that findings suggest high surname diversity in urban England in 1881as well as strong dynamics in England over longer time period, exhibiting a process of convergence, consolidation and accelerated divergence between urban regions, which can be read as a reflection of socio-spatial processes, such as suburbanisation, reurbanisation, international migration and new operations of housing market.

Dr Tian Lan’s analysis of ethnic segregation looked into questions of whether Britain was ‘sleepwalking to segregation’, as suggested by Finney & Simpson (2009), investigating whether Britain was becoming more segregated or ‘mixed’ and the composition of mixed neighbourhoods, while exploring limitations of segregation analysis and modelling, namely issues around temporal granularity by relying on decennial Census of Population data, and spatial granularity in terms of scale and aggregated effects (Modifiable Areal Unit Problem). Based on CRER data, AddressBase data and Onomap (Ethnicity Estimator), using the aspatial dissimilarity index and a spatial dissimilarity index, as well as the spatial ordinary entropy index as methods of analysis, results for instance showed that for Birmingham segregation was decreasing while for Manchester it was increasing between 1998 – 2016.

Dr Zeynep Engin: Open source platform for urban planning
Dr Zeynep Engin, Senior Research Associate at UCL Computer Science and Founder of Data for Policy, presented on the open source platform for urban planning, suggesting modelling a platform on existing initiatives such as the Wharton wrds, and OpenMRS for the medical sector, and provide an eco-system for different audiences to converge, namely in the shape of a data facility, an analytics facility, a user facility and an experts facility. Based on the open data management system CKAN, widely used for open data by public sector organisations globally, paired with HDFS integration to accelerate processing for higher level analytics, and a function that additional functions including data uploads and a standardised metadata structure and indicators, as well as geo-temporal analysis and visualisation and a public engagement component.

The workshop sessions focused on discussions on topics set by our partner cities in table groups, and all exhibited an interest in how to model and evaluate ‘inclusive growth’ in spatial terms.
Manchester (New Economy Manchester)
  • Increase understanding of implications in terms of the choices between providing a transport link for deprived communities to access and enhance existing employment opportunities versus locating new employment opportunities within walking or cycling distance to these communities, and ultimately understand the factors which influence access decisions and how they can be mitigated, e.g. time and cost to access employment.
Birmingham (Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands)
  • How does the industrial strategy’s and the West Midlands Combined Authorities’ focus on Advanced Manufacturing as an ‘endogenous’ sector relate to spatial clusters of firms and people and transport infrastructure investment – in other words, how can transport proposals be ‘inclusive’ and useful for the more disadvantaged part of the population?
  • How are groups clustered differently across the city (by function, identity, skills, education etc), and how this relates to new developments or accessibility?
  • How do advanced manufacturing clusters actually relate to this?
  • How do transport and accessibility relate to these patterns?
Milton Keynes (Milton Keynes City Council)
  • How can the innovation potential outlined in the proposals for the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford arc and the idea of the area as the ‘UK’s Silicon Valley – a world renowned centre for science, technology and innovation’ connect to the wider region and population considering issues around connectivity and housing demand and cost?

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