Friday, September 30, 2016

Empty spaces in the crowd: Residential vacancy in São Paulo

Nadalin, V., & Igliori, D. (2016). Empty spaces in the crowd. Residential vacancy in São Paulo’s city centre. Urban Studies, DOI: 10.1177/0042098016666498.

In the past decades, when São Paulo became the national manufacturing centre, it has experienced great population growth. Since then, many housing problems have emerged. In addition, the difficulties that inner cities face in attracting jobs and maintaining economic activities are particularly challenging. Indeed, even if many cities have successfully regenerated their central areas, the so-called inner city problem is still very much alive in the case of São Paulo. As a result although the city centre has abundant urban infrastructure it still has plenty of vacant spaces, including residential buildings. One could say that São Paulo’s city centre is characterised by a large number of empty spaces in an area that is simultaneously crowded with buildings and urban facilities. This paper intends to contribute to the empirical analysis of the determinants of vacancy rates, with a particular focus on historical city centres, using São Paulo Metropolitan Area as our case study. Our empirical analysis relies on district-level data for the years 2000 and 2010, and combines standard spatial econometric methods with hedonic modelling. Our results suggest that there are three main groups of determinants: individual buildings characteristics, mobility of households and neighbourhood quality. We find evidence that the historic central city is a distinctive submarket, needing special urban policies. Its determinants work differently when compared with the housing markets of other areas across the city.
credit: Nadalin & Igliori, 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#wherearetheracks in Cambridge ?

I took this picture yesterday near the train station at Cambridge UK. I confess I'm surprised with how poor is cycling infrastructure in Cambridge given that this is the city with the highest share of commutes by bike in Britain. Without much ambition, I'm starting the hashtag #wherearetheracks in Twitter to raise awareness of local authorities about the lack of cycling racks in their communities.  

This is the least that happens where there is a lack of cycling infrastructure. 

#wherearetheracks in Cambridge ?
image credit: Rafael Pereira

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Measuring exposure to air pollution using mobile phone data

Tijs Neutens and colleagues have a new paper where they use mobile phone data to assess people's exposure to air pollution in Belgium in high spatio-temporal resolution. Some of you might be interested (via GAUMAS).

Dewulf, B., et al. (2016). Dynamic assessment of exposure to air pollution using mobile phone data. International journal of health geographics, 15(1), 1.

image credit: Dewulf, et al. (2016)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Urban Picture

Obs. I will away for the next couple of weeks, but I'll try to stay active on twitter.

Venice and other incredible cities from above

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Biographical note: moving to Cambridge

In the next few weeks I will be moving to Cambridge, or as we say here in Oxford: 'The Other Place' :)

My wife will undertake a one-year Masters degree there while I finish my PhD. I will probably spend most of my time stuck in libraries writing papers and dissertation, but of course I would be happy to have some social live and beer as well.

If you're in Cambridge, feel free to drop me a line to get a beer/coffee and chat about life and everything else. In case you have insomnia problems, I would be glad to help, talking you through my doctoral research on transportation equity, distributive justice, socio-spatial inequalities in cities, transport accessibility modeling and sports mega-events.

King's College Chapel

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Using Computer Vision to Measure the Quality and Impact of Urban Appearance

Interesting paper on computer vision & urban economics, by Cesar Hidalgo and colleagues. Ungated version here.

Naik, N., Raskar, R., & Hidalgo, C. A. (2016). Cities Are Physical Too: Using Computer Vision to Measure the Quality and Impact of Urban AppearanceThe American Economic Review, 106(5), 128-132.

For social scientists, developing an empirical connection between the physical appearance of a city and the behavior and health of its inhabitants has proved challenging due to a lack of data on urban appearance. Can we use computers to quantify urban appearance from street-level imagery? We describe Streetscore: a computer vision algorithm that measures the perceived safety of streetscapes. Using Streetscore to evaluate 19 American cities, we find that the average perceived safety has a strong positive correlation with population density and household income; and the variation in perceived safety has a strong positive correlation with income inequality.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Message of the Day

How equal do we want the world to be? You'd be surprised

This is the question Norton and Ariely try to answer in their paper 'Building a better America - One wealth quintile at a time'. This is a relatively old paper by now, but still central to debates on economic/social policy, and it's a really good paper anyway.

Here is the TED talk summarising the study.