Tim Stonor: Tombolo & the Science of Cities

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We are witnessing the emergence of a ‘science of cities’. The Internet of Things and increasing quantities of ‘big’ data offer an unprecedented opportunity to enhance our understandings about how our cities function and open up new opportunities to make evidence-based, spatially intelligent decisions.

3D view of Darwin at Nighttime

However, in order to realise this opportunity, the ever-increasing amount of data being produced needs to be understood. This means that there is an important role for analysis, modelling and visualisation to reveal the insights within the data.

Currently this analysis, modelling and visualisation is undertaken in disciplinary silos, often based around the rigid governance structure of a city. This creates a problem of poor communications between the silos. But what if we could develop a tool to bring these experts together to try and tackle our most entrenched and complex urban issues?

This is what Tombolo has set out to do. Tombolo seeks to create a common platform for an increasingly data-rich urban agenda, integrating datasets from various sources and analysing the social, economic and environmental performance of different development scenarios for cities.

Tombolo’s method is to create a ‘digital connector’, allowing the various individual models and datasets used by specialist disciplines to be integrated; overcoming the disciplinary fragmentation between policymakers, developers, architects, planners and civic leaders to facilitate meaningful action on complex issues.

The approach is transparent and communicative – helping stakeholders participate in the process and, most importantly, helping people take decisions that lead to action and changed behaviours. This is crucial for urban decision-makers. Urban governance is striving to make places work better for those who live, work and play there, with the prosperity and wellbeing of citizens at its very heart.

The aim is for Tombolo to become a governance tool used by urban decision-makers and experts to facilitate collaborative, creative, informed and locally-tailored responses to complex urban issues.

– Tim Stonor

Managing Director, Space Syntax

Tim Stonor is an architect and urban planner who has devoted his career to the analysis and design of human behaviour patterns – the ways in which people move, interact and transact in buildings and urban places. He is an internationally recognised expert in the design of spatial layouts and, in particular, the role of space in the generation of social, economic and environmental value.


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