SpaceTimeLab Newsletter 2015

6 January 2016

As 2016 begins, it is time to reflect on the highlights of 2015 and make plans for the year. 2015 has been a year of continued growth and change for SpaceTimeLab. We rebranded ourselves as SpaceTimeLab for Big Data Analytics to emphasise our focus on the core areas around Big space-time data, in particular prediction, profiling, simulation and visualisation. Our research spans the fields of transport and mobility, intelligent policing, business intelligence, and environmental resilience. We are eager to continue research in these areas, and to explore new areas such as health and energy. Our data portfolios are also expanding. Amongst other items, this year we were excited to be given access to Oyster card data, which is the biggest dataset we have ever worked with. 

The core business of the lab has been the Crime, Policing and Citizenship (CPC, www.ucl.ac.uk) project. A suite of algorithms for intelligent policing has been developed, which includes cutting-edge crime prediction, strategic planning, optimal patrol and performance evaluation. Finally, three and a half years into the project, we have been given access to crime and police movement data covering the whole of London! The CPC team are busy applying their algorithms and tools to these new datasets. The preliminary results are promising, and we hope that the Metropolitan Police will be able to use our algorithms and tools in their daily practice. CPC Researcher Dr Chris Gale left us in April, and is now happily settled in the University of Southampton, working on an ESRC funded project. Another Researcher, Dr Sarah Wise will move to UCL CASA in January 2016. We are pleased that Sarah will remain at UCL, enabling us to work closely together in the future.

All the researchers and PhDs have made good progress in 2015. In particular, two PhD students who joined the lab last year have received prizes in conferences. Juntao Lai, whose paper co-authored by myself and Guy Lansley – “Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Passengers’ Interests at London Tube Stations” was awarded the prize for best young researcher paper at GISRUK 2015. The paper was praised for its clarity and rigour. Huanfa Chen, whose paper - “Designing Daily Police Patrol Routes Based on Ant Colony Algorithm” was awarded the prize of Honorable Mention for Best Young Researcher Paper at The First International Symposium on Spatiotemporal Computing (ISSC 2015). Co-authored by myself and Sarah, the paper developed an effective, scalable and flexible strategy for crime hotspot patrolling to deter and reduce crime. The paper received the prize for its thorough research and clarity in writing.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the co-Is, sponsors and collaborators for helping to make this year such a success. 2016 promises to be another busy and exciting year. We are expecting some new PhD students to join and are planning a substantial closing event for the CPC project to summarise the project's many outputs.

But first, everyone has earned a break! I wish you all a very pleasant holiday and a happy new year.

Tao Cheng
SpaceTimeLab Director

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