The OECD/ITF (International Transport Forum) released the document “Towards the Light: Effective Light Mobility Policies in Cities” with policy recommendations towards more sustainable cities through light mobility such as bicycles, scooters, or micro vehicles.
In this report, a whole section called “Go faster! Develop high-quality wheeled light mobility infrastructure that fits the context” is based almost entirely on several of our NERDS papers on bicycle/micromobility network analysis. The section discusses how “a strong effort should be made to ensure that the newly created network is connected to the greatest extent possible and allows access to important and popular points of interest”, and how data-driven approaches that we developed are “important tools” that can complement traditional manual approaches:
Further, the report cites a previous study of ours on the perceived distribution of road space,
[Cars] have become so entrenched in the urban landscape that the general public often systematically overestimates the amount of mobility space allocated to non-motorised modes – while underestimating the space allocated to the car (Szell, 2018). Additionally, much of the violence they impose on all other road users is normalised and remains unaddressed in public and policy discourses.
Policy makers and planners need to remove their car blinders and cure their car blindness so that they can finally see the light.
We wholeheartedly agree and are happy that our research is useful for sustainable policy-making in an international context. (The International Transport Forum is an inter-governmental organisation within the OECD system, and is the only global body with a mandate for all modes of transport. It acts as a think tank for transport policy issues and organises the annual global summit of transport ministers.)
ITU is looking for an Associate Professor in data science and machine learning, including network science, computational social science: Read more and apply at the official call page
Deadline: Sep 8
This is not a call specific to any research group at ITU, but if the new Assoc. Prof’s topic fits with our group NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS) at IT University of Copenhagen, they could join us. NERDS focuses on quantitative projects at the boundary of computational social science and network science, including science of science, social dynamics, urban sustainability, data visualization, and fundamental questions in complex systems.
Both salary and working conditions are excellent at ITU. NERDS is a down-to-earth and fun place to be, we have won the Research Environment of 2022 prize. Copenhagen is often named as the best city in the world to live in, and for good reasons. It’s world-renowned for food, beer, art, music, architecture, the Scandinavian “hygge”, and much more. In Denmark, parental leave is generous, and child-care is excellent and cheap.
If you are interested to know more about NERDS or working at ITU please reach out to us.
Future directions in human mobility science, by L. Pappalardo, E. Manley, V. Sekara, L. Alessandretti, published in Nature Computational Science
We provide a brief review of human mobility science and present three key areas where we expect to see substantial advancements. We start from the mind and discuss the need to better understand how spatial cognition shapes mobility patterns. We then move to societies and argue the importance of better understanding new forms of transportation. We conclude by discussing how algorithms shape mobility behavior and provide useful tools for modelers. Finally, we discuss how progress on these research directions may help us address some of the challenges our society faces today.
This year’s IC2S2, the 9th International Conference on Computational Social Science is now over, and it was a smashing success! The conference brought together over 700 people from dozens of countries, doubling in size compared to the previous edition. With 50% PhD and 30% Postdoc participants, the Computational Social Science community is young and refreshingly open, which could also be seen from the diversity of keynote speakers, spanning from evolutionary biologists to tourism/transport researchers. This community is the opposite of calcified – rather, it brought together experts and ideas from different fields for a true, unpolitical exchange and cross-pollination. This is how science should be done.
We fully echo the sentiments of the president of the new International Society for Computational Social Science (ISCSS), Duncan Watts, who concluded in the IC2S2 town hall meeting: We don’t have clear boundaries. Whoever identifies as computational social scientist should come to IC2S2.
NERDS played a significant role at IC2S2. We co-organized the conference, chaired several sessions, held a successful tutorial, and gave 2 lightning talks, 7 parallel talks, and presented 13 posters. See the full list of our activities here: NERDSIC2S2.PDF
Finally, let us share our visual impressions of NERDS@IC2S2:
See you next year at IC2S2 2024 in Philadelphia!
Besides co-organizing the conference and chairing several sessions, NERDS are omnipresent with events and activities at this year’s IC2S2, the 9th International Conference on Computational Social Science. In fact, we will give 2 lightning talks, 7 parallel talks, and present 13 posters, apart from having organized today’s successful tutorial on Geospatial Data Science:
See here a full list where you can catch us for the rest of the week: NERDSIC2S2.PDF
Enjoy Copenhagen and IC2S2!
NERDS welcomes a new member: Anders Giovanni Møller. Starting today, Anders will be a PhD student working with Luca Aiello on the COCOONS project at the intersection between NLP and complex systems. Anders can boast a long tenure at ITU, and last week he got his Master’s degree in Data Science. He was selected for a keynote address to the whole 2023 cohort of ITU MSc graduates during the graduation ceremony — a very moving and inspiring speech! Welcome, Anders!
We welcome the summer with 3 new diverse papers!
- BikeDNA: A tool for bicycle infrastructure data and network assessment, by A. Rahbek Vierø, A. Vybornova & M. Szell, published in Environment and Planning B
See also: https://github.com/anerv/BikeDNA
Building high-quality bicycle networks requires knowledge of existing bicycle infrastructure. However, bicycle network data from governmental agencies or crowdsourced projects like OpenStreetMap often suffer from unknown, heterogeneous, or low quality, which hampers the green transition of human mobility. In particular, bicycle-specific data have peculiarities that require a tailor-made, reproducible quality assessment pipeline: For example, bicycle networks are much more fragmented than road networks, or are mapped with inconsistent data models. To fill this gap, we introduce BikeDNA, an open-source tool for reproducible quality assessment tailored to bicycle infrastructure data with a focus on network structure and connectivity. BikeDNA performs either a standalone analysis of one data set or a comparative analysis between OpenStreetMap and a reference data set, including feature matching. Data quality metrics are considered both globally for the entire study area and locally on grid cell level, thus exposing spatial variation in data quality. Interactive maps and HTML/PDF reports are generated to facilitate the visual exploration and communication of results. BikeDNA supports quality assessments of bicycle infrastructure data for a wide range of applications—from urban planning to OpenStreetMap data improvement or network research for sustainable mobility.
- How Do US Congress Members Advertise Climate Change: An Analysis of Ads Run on Meta’s Platforms, by L. Aisenpreis, G. Gyrst & V. Sekaram published in Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media
Ensuring transparency and integrity in political communication on climate change has arguably never been more important than today. Yet we know little about how politicians focus on, talk about, and portray climate change on social media. Here we study it from the perspective of political advertisement. We use Meta’s Ad Library to collect 602,546 ads that have been issued by US Congress members since mid-2018. Out of those only 19,176 (3.2%) are climate-related. Analyzing this data, we find that Democrats focus substantially more on climate change than Republicans, with 99.7% of all climate-related ads stemming from Democratic politicians. In particular, we find this is driven by a small core of Democratic politicians, where 72% of all impressions can be attributed to 10 politicians. Interestingly, we find a significant difference in the average amount of impressions generated per dollar spent between the two parties. Republicans generate on average 188% more impressions with their climate ads for the same money spent as Democrats. We build models to explain the differences and find that demographic factors only partially explain the variance. Our results demonstrate differences of climate-related advertisements of US congress members and reveal differences in advertising characteristics between the two political parties. We anticipate our work to be a starting point for further studies about climate-related ads on Meta’s platforms.
- Social dimensions impact individual sleep quantity and quality, by S. Park, A. Zhunis, M. Constantinides, L.M. Aiello, D. Quercia & M. Cha, published in Scientific Reports
While sleep positively impacts well-being, health, and productivity, the effects of societal factors on sleep remain underexplored. Here we analyze the sleep of 30,082 individuals across 11 countries using 52 million activity records from wearable devices. Our data are consistent with past studies of gender and age-associated sleep characteristics. However, our analysis of wearable device data uncovers differences in recorded vs. self-reported bedtime and sleep duration. The dataset allowed us to study how country-specific metrics such as GDP and cultural indices relate to sleep in groups and individuals. Our analysis indicates that diverse sleep metrics can be represented by two dimensions: sleep quantity and quality. We find that 55% of the variation in sleep quality, and 63% in sleep quantity, are explained by societal factors. Within a societal boundary, individual sleep experience was modified by factors like exercise. Increased exercise or daily steps were associated with better sleep quality (for example, faster sleep onset and less time awake in bed), especially in countries like the U.S. and Finland. Understanding how social norms relate to sleep will help create strategies and policies that enhance the positive impacts of sleep on health, such as productivity and well-being.
Revealing the determinants of gender inequality in urban cycling with large-scale data, by A. Battiston, L. Napoli, P. Bajardi, A. Panisson, A. Perotti, M. Szell & R. Schifanella, published in EPJ Data Science
The uptake of cycling in today’s cities is especially low for women: there is a largely unexplained, persistent gender gap in cycling. To understand the determinants of this gender gap in cycling at scale, here we use massive, automatically-collected data from the tracking application Strava on outdoor cycling for 61 cities across the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and the Benelux area. While Strava data is particularly well-suited to describe the behavior of regular cyclists and its generalizability to occasional cyclists requires further investigation, the size of these data and their characteristics represent an unprecedented opportunity for the literature on cycling. Leveraging the associated gender and usage information, we first quantify the emerging gender gap in recreational cycling at city-level. A comparison of cycling rates of women across cities within similar geographical areas—where the penetration of Strava is assumed to be comparable—unveils a broad range of gender gaps. On a macroscopic level, we link this heterogeneity to a variety of urban indicators and provide evidence for traditional hypotheses on the determinants of the gender-cycling-gap. We find a positive association between female cycling rate and urban road safety. On a microscopic level, we identify female preferences for street-specific features in the city of New York. Assuming that the determinants of the gender-cycling-gap are similar across regular and occasional cyclists, our study suggests that enhancing the quality of the dedicated cycling infrastructure may be a way to make urban environments more accessible for women, thereby making urban transport more sustainable for everyone.
Last week we, Michael Szell and Anastassia Vybornova, together with Rafael Prieto Curiel from Complexity Science Hub Vienna, held a workshop on sustainable mobility in Vienna, Austria, featuring some of the top local experts on the topic: Vienna’s cycling coordinator Martin Blum, and the researchers Anita Graser, Barbara Laa, Ulrich Leth.
The event featured 7 talks (2 from NERDS) and many thought-provoking discussions, see a nice summary here: https://www.csh.ac.at/sustainable-mobility/
The workshop covered the following aspects:
Why are politicians so reluctant to invest into bicycle infrastructure and pedestrianization given it is the most efficient investment towards sustainable and livable cities? What are the technical and political bottlenecks that keep society in the stranglehold of car dependency, and what are the implications of sustained delay? Which data are we missing, how should we grow network infrastructure, and how to speed up the sluggish political process? The climate crisis demands pressing answers, which we explore here with state-of-the-art insights in Data/Network/Complexity Science and Urban Planning.
This workshop brings together researchers and policymakers from Vienna and Copenhagen who work on understanding the best pathways towards sustainable mobility with focus on cycling, or who are developing tools/methods supporting that aim. Our speakers will cover: Mobility and infrastructure data quality, bicycle network planning, politics & activism, systemic complexity approaches.
On April 1st our postdoc Tiago Cunha has sadly left our research group to industry, going from applying his data science knowledge at Novo Nordisk. Tiago has been the first NERDS postdoc, spending more than 3 years in the group. We had a great time together and he was a pivotal member of the group, both from a scientific and a social point of view. We wish him all the best for his future!