How Big Data is Transforming the Way We Plan Our Cities
The availability of ubiquitous location-based data in cities has had far-reaching implications on analytical powers in various disciplines. This article focuses on some of the accrued benefits to urban transport planners and the urban planning field at large. It contends that the gains of Big Data and real-time information has not only improved analytical strength, but has also created ripple effects in the systemic approaches of city planning, integrating ex-post studies within the design cycle and redefining the planning process as a microscopic, iterative and self-correcting process. Case studies from the field are used to further highlight these newfound abilities to process finegrained analyses and propose more customized location-based solutions, offered by Big Data. A detailed description of the Torrance Living Lab experience maps out some of the potentials of using movement data from Big Data sources to design an alternative mobility plan for a low-density urban area. Finally, the paper reflects on Big Data’s limited capacity at present to replace traditional forecast modelling tools, despite demonstrated advantages over traditional methods in gaining insight from past and present travel trends.