© 2017

Seeing Cities Through Big Data

Research, Methods and Applications in Urban Informatics

  • Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah
  • Nebiyou Tilahun
  • Moira Zellner


  • Helps break down barriers between traditionally siloed research areas, serving as a reference for both urban social scientists and data scientists who currently work in different communities and networks

  • There is limited published work on the state of the art of the use of Big Data for urban research; this book fills that gap by presenting novel ways of using Big Data for urban informatics

  • This book brings together experts from multidisciplinary fields and provides the state of the art in the different aspects of using Big Data in urban applications

  • Incorporates research into major data quality issues, frameworks, metrics and methods to be used for data quality assessment and also discusses fundamental limitations in Big Data-based urban social science research

  • Discusses novel ways of using Big Data towards planning and management of urban areas to meet sustainability, resilience, and intelligent resource utilization goals

  • Provides insight into how Big Data resources are being used to get a more fine-grained understanding of urban processes and dynamics, with the goal of developing theories or hypothesis to stimulate future empirical research


Part of the Springer Geography book series (SPRINGERGEOGR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah, Nebiyou Y. Tilahun, Moira Zellner
    Pages 1-9
  3. Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah, Nebiyou Y. Tilahun, Moira Zellner
    Pages 11-45
  4. Analytics of User-Generated Content

  5. Challenges and Opportunities of Urban Big Data

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 97-97
    2. Timothy P. Johnson, Tom W. Smith
      Pages 113-125
    3. Venkata M. V. Gunturi, Shashi Shekhar
      Pages 127-140
    4. Francisco Antunes, Aidan O’Sullivan, Filipe Rodrigues, Francisco Pereira
      Pages 141-160
  6. Changing Organizational and Educational Perspectives with Urban Big Data

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 161-161
    2. Rashmi Krishnamurthy, Kendra L. Smith, Kevin C. Desouza
      Pages 163-188
    3. Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah, Lise Dirks, Yaye Mallon Keita
      Pages 189-207
    4. Steven P. French, Camille Barchers, Wenwen Zhang
      Pages 209-217
  7. Urban Data Management

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 231-231
    2. Christopher Pettit, Andrew Tice, Bill Randolph
      Pages 233-255
    3. Gregory D. Erhardt, Oliver Lock, Elsa Arcaute, Michael Batty
      Pages 257-278

About this book


This book introduces the latest thinking on the use of Big Data in the context of urban systems, including  research and insights on human behavior, urban dynamics, resource use, sustainability and spatial disparities, where it promises improved planning, management and governance in the urban sectors (e.g., transportation, energy, smart cities, crime, housing, urban and regional economies, public health, public engagement, urban governance and political systems), as well as Big Data’s utility in decision-making, and development of indicators to monitor economic and social activity, and for urban sustainability, transparency, livability, social inclusion, place-making, accessibility and resilience.


Big Data Urban Informatics Urban Science Urban Big Data Urban Data Management Data Democracy Big Data Workshop Urban Planning Open Urban Data

Editors and affiliations

  • Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah
    • 1
  • Nebiyou Tilahun
    • 2
  • Moira Zellner
    • 3
  1. 1.Urban Studies and Urban Big Data CentreUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of Urban Planning and PolicyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Urban Planning and PolicyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

About the editors

Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah is Ch2M Chair of Transportation and Professor of Urban Studies in the University of Glasgow, UK. She is the founding Director of the Urban Big Data Centre, a consortium of seven universities funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Prior to current position, she was Professor of Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago. She started her career as a postdoctoral researcher in the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, with a fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS). Her research interests are in smart, socially-just and sustainable transportation, and on theories and methods explaining transportation policies and traveler behaviour. Her work has examined "smart" public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian active transportation, as well as in connected/collaborative/shared transportation systems. Vonu’s research has considered the needs of a wide spectrum of travelers including low-wage workers, seniors, persons with disabilities and young adults and her work links social equity and human capital considerations to the labour market, safety, well-being and other outcomes experienced by travelers. She is more broadly interested in Urban Informatics or the analytics of emerging sources of data to understand complex urban problems, and the political economy surrounding many novel forms of data. Such analytics have significant potential to improve livability, learning and engagement in cities and to bring about urban planning, policy and business innovations. Aside from numerous journal articles in these areas, her recent book “Transportation and Information: Trends in Technology and Policy” discusses emerging ICT trends in smart mobility systems. She is currently a European Commission Marie Curie fellow.

Nebiyou Tilahun is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Planning and Policy department at University of Illinois at Chicago. He earned his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He was previously a postdoctoral researcher at the Humphrey School for Public Affairs and at the Urban Transportation Center at University of Illinois at Chicago. His work focuses on travel behavior analyses, transportation planning models, and social issues surrounding transportation. His recent works includes the evaluation of last-mile barriers to intermodal transportation and on strategies to enhance transit accessibility in regions implementing transit system changes. He is also interested in the use of agent-based models for transportation planning applications and is the developer of ABODE (an agent based trip distribution model for work purposes). His research leverages large datasets collected by public and private institutions to inform questions about traveller’s long and short-term decisions for location and mode as well as to understand urban transit and land use related issues to inform transportation policy.  He received the 2008 Matthew J. Huber Award for Excellence in Transportation Research and Education from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies.

Moira Zellner joined the Urban Planning & Policy Program as an Assistant Professor in January of 2006. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Moira earned her undergraduate degree in ecology at the Centro de Altos Estudios en Ciencias Exactas, and pursued graduate studies in urban and regional planning and in complex systems at the University of Michigan. Before coming to the US, she worked in Argentina as a consultant on environmental issues for local and international environmental engineering firms and for the undersecretary of Environment in the City of Buenos Aires, in projects related to domestic and hazardous waste management, river remediation, industrial pollution control, and environmental impact assessments. She also participated in interdisciplinary and international research projects of urban air pollution and of the spread of tuberculosis through public transportation. In the US, her professional work includes greenway development and river restoration projects in Miami Beach and in California, and transportation surveys. Her current research involves assessing the environmental impacts of urbanization, and exploring how to enhance the sustainability and resilience of urban areas. The focus is on how specific policy and behavioral changes can effectively address complex environmental problems, in which decentralized decisions result in regional land-use and consumption patterns that negatively affect resource availability and quality. Her research also examines the applicability of complexity theory and complexity-based models to policy exploration and social learning.

Bibliographic information

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“This book is a reviewed collection of papers presented in 2014 at a workshop at the University of Illinois at Chicago. … each chapter contains an abstract, appropriate figures, illustrations, graphs, and a list of references … . readers will find an excellent introduction to contemporary research and practice in urban informatics.” (Brad Reid, Computing Reviews, June, 2017)