Michael Batty

February 25, 2022

In Case You Missed It

Watch our seminar featuring a leading voice in urban informatics, Dr. Michael Batty, Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London.


The idea that we might build more than one model of the same phenomenon is rapidly gaining momentum as it becomes increasingly clear that any form of prediction is conditional on how we abstract from the system of interest. The development of ever faster computers and better data from real time sensing and more effective sampling of human behaviour are making the idea of building more than one model feasible for many urban problems across many scales. Into this debate has come the notion of the ‘digital twin’ which is pushing our models to greater realism. In this talk, I will review the idea of digital twins, noting the conundrums they raise and the idea that as models get ever close to the real thing, they begin to merge with it. To illustrate these ideas, we take an area of East London and indicate how several models of the same location can be built at different scales stressing different features and attributes, all informing different aspects of the same problem. We argue that multiple models of the same phenomenon from which we might explore a problem in different ways, provide new ways of pooling predictions to answer ‘what if’ type questions.  

References: Batty, M. (2018) Digital Twins, Environment and Planning B45(5) 817–820, (2019) A Map is not the Territory, or Is It? Environment and Planning B46(4), 599–602. 

Michael Batty

Michael Batty is Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London, Chair of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) and a Turing Fellow in the Alan Turing Institute. He was Professor of Town Planning in Cardiff in the 1980s before he set up CASA at UCL in 1995. His recent publications are Inventing Future Cities (2018), and the edited book Urban Informatics (Springer 2021). He is co-author of the Digital Taskforce for Planning report (2022) with Dr. Wei Yang He is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), the Royal Society (FRS), and the RTPI. He was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2004.