UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

Prof Tao Cheng

Prof Tao Cheng

Professor of Geoinformatics

Dept of Civil, Environ &Geomatic Eng

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Jul 2006

Research summary

Prof Cheng is the world leading expert in  the principles and practice of (Big) spatio-temporal data analytics. She has developed theories and methods to model and predict space-time processes by statistical and machine learning approaches  and has first-hand experience of big data analytics in urban mobility,  intelligent policing, retail business and hazard prevention. 

In partner with Met Police, she is leading the CPC project (Crime, Policing and Citizenship - Space-Time Interaction of Dynamic Networks, www.ucl.ac.uk/cpc, EPSRC, £1.4M); part of the Global Uncertainty Programme; which aims to understand and predict when, where and how criminal activities emerge and are sustained. It draws upon a broad-spectrum of expertise in four departments across two facilities in UCL. There are 4 PDRAs and 6 PhD students working on the CPC project.

With Transport for London, she led the STANDARD project (http://standard.cege.ucl.ac.uk); the first attempt to mine transport network data in order to understand congestion in Central London (EPSRC, £794,570). STANDARD presents an innovative approach to integrated space-time analysis of traffic, using concepts from network complexity and spatio-temporal data mining.

She is the Co-I of the Consumer Data Research Centre (http://cdrc.ac.uk), a multi-institution laboratory which discovers, mines, analyses and synthesises consumer-related datasets from around the UK.  CDRC is the largest project funded by UK ESRC Big Data initiatives (£6.1M), a national platform and a service that will unlock the potential of ‘Big’ retail data for research and public service delivery.  

Prof. Cheng is also a Co-I on the FP7 INFRARISK project (http://www.infrarisk-fp7.eu, Novel Indicators for identifying critical INFRAstructure at RISK from natural hazards, €2.8M, 2013-16), developing reliable stress tests to establish the resilience of critical European infrastructures to rare low frequency extreme events and to aid decision making in the long term regarding robust infrastructure development and protection of existing infrastructure.

She also leads two Engineering Doctorate projects: the first is using Web-based geoportals to garner public trust in UK nuclear waste disposal locations (TrustWebGIS, funded by EPSRC/Arup: 2007-11) and the second is simulating the impact of driver behaviours upon congestion around large events in London (such as major football matches, carnivals and the Olympic Games: EPSRC/TfL: 2009-13). Additionally, an EPSRC Location & Timing KTN CASE Award (2009-2012) with u-blox UK (a geotagging company) is developed to detect hybrid travel modes using sparse GPS data log. 

Tao Cheng is supervising 4 PDRAs and 5 PhD students.

Teaching summary

Prof Cheng has studied and lectured in China, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, France and the UK. She has substantial experience of university teaching and learning at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has taught a variety of subjects on GIS in both English and Chinese. 

She has been the Director of MSc in GISci (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/gis), a well-established and highly regarded course for two decades. She is the founder and Director of MSc in Space-Time Analytics (http://www/ucl.ac.uk/sta), a new MSc in data science. For both MSc courses, she gives lectures on GIS Principles & Technology and Spatio-Temporal Analysis and Data Mining.


Wageningen Universiteit
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1999
Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1992
Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1989


Tao Cheng is a Professor in GeoInformatics at UCL whose research interests span network complexity, Geocomputation, space-time analytics and Big data mining (modelling, prediction, clustering, visualisation and simulation) with applications in transport, crime, health, social media, and natural hazards. She has published over 180 refereed papers, and secured research grants over £11 million in the UK, EU and China. She has worked with many industrial partners including Transport for London, the London Metropolitan Police and Arup. 

Prof Cheng is the founder and Director of SpaceTimeLab for Big Data Analytics (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/spacetimelab), a multi-disciplinary research centre at UCL that aims to gain insight from geo-located and time-stamped data to enhance urban resilience and sustainability through engagement with government, public and industry. SpaceTimeLab focuses on developing theories, methods and tools for use in the real world such as transport and mobility, intelligent policing, business intelligence and hazards prevention.