Space Syntax are pleased to announce that we have just published Space Syntax OpenMapping. This pre-processed spatial network model of Great Britain is now available as an open dataset, it can be downloaded here. We’ve timed this to support our Tombolo activities with the Future Cities Catapult and in particular the hackathon taking place this weekend.
Spatial network analysis measures the connectivity of streets and spaces. It does this across different scales to explain neighbourhood, city and regional characteristics.
Research carried out around the world over the last thirty years has shown that these analyses relate to the way that cities function day to day: where it is more likely for there to be higher levels of pedestrian movement, where land uses (like retail) have the best chance of sustaining themselves, and even where particular types of crime take place.
The OS data the model is made from is itself open, but preparing and processing a model of this size takes time. We hope that releasing the processed model will support academic research across scales. By providing a pre-processed model we hope that more people can use the same dataset to ask new questions. This brings efficiencies, because people aren’t spending time to make the same dataset, but also brings additional rigour by providing a standard model that can be used to check findings against.
By combining this model with other datasets we are finding more and more important insights; which parts of a city are more or less car dependent, and where particular health and well-being outcomes are associated with specific urban conditions.
Previously, we have used this model to support our project work, such as the Foresight Future of Cities project for the Government Office for Science. In this case the model was used to study population growth scenarios at the national scale. Through this work we started to ask different questions of the model – are there patterns across the country consistent with where people live, or are there patterns to how jobs are distributed across the country? (The answers to both are yes).
This meant that we had to analyse the model against different datasets. Combining data from different sources, and in different formats takes time.
So that other people don’t have to go through the same pain as us, the OpenMapping dataset references every street against typical boundaries used to collect other datasets such as the census (LSOA, MSOA, Local Authority).
To make this even easier the (open source) Tombolo “Digital Connector” already includes an importer to combine these datasets. This means that very rich data held at the level of the individual street can be aggregated to compare to data held at a less granular level.
Answering these wider questions also meant beginning to get involved with different professions and disciplines. One of the reasons for opening the dataset is to enable more of these conversations to be held in areas outside the typical disciplines associated with design and planning.
We think the model is great and want to encourage its use. To do so we have licensed it under terms that enable a wide range of uses. We would really like to hear how people are using it, to share any interesting findings and to hear if people need further support in using it. You can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Parham – Director at Space Syntax