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Itzhak Benenson

 Itzhak Benenson

Geosimulation and Spatial Analysis Lab
Department of Geography and Human Environment
Tel Aviv University


bennya <at>


Big Urban Data – Do they make city future predictable?

Cities are a habitual example of complex system driven by humans. All possible phenomena of complexity - multiple equilibria, bifurcations, self-organization, positive feedbacks and criticality can be easily found there. Complexity ensures that the cities are capable to adapt and evolve, but makes it highly difficult to predict their dynamics.

Until very recently we successfully exploited cities’ complexity to develop new theories and models that provide a fair understanding of the aggregate data and stylized facts. An explanation of the urban reality was the ultimate goal. The next step in natural sciences would be prediction.

XXI century brought in an overwhelming flow of real-time data about every person, institution and infrastructure element. Did it take us closer to predicting the future of the city? Big data indeed trigger a paradigm shift in urban modeling. We are now able to validate our models and distinguish between phenomena that can be predicted and those that cannot. A new wave of urban modelling is coming. Future models will merge behavioral experiments with computer science using virtual reality and serious games.



Dr. Itzhak Benenson is a Professor of Geography at the Department of Geography and Human Environment of Tel Aviv University, Israel, and a Head of the Geosimulation and Spatial Analysis lab there.

His research includes study of the big urban data, modelling of the urban land use and residential dynamics, impact of local and regional plans, use of public transport and parking in the city, vehicle-pedestrian interactions and road accidents.

Itzhak is an associated editor of the Computers Environment and Urban System journal and serves on several editorial boards. He is a member of the IGU Commission on Geographical Information Science.