Andrew Hudson-Smith on city visualizations

In Londonist, there is an insightful interview of Andrew Hudson-Smith (UCL, Department of Advanced Spatial Analysis) about new ways of visualizing the city in three dimensions. The picture below shows an air pollution map.

So, tell us a bit about your background, and how you came to be playing god with the London skyline.

The story dates back to a phone call from Professor Mike Batty (CBE) asking me to do a PhD after seeing an early webpage on communicating architecture to the public. I always said that I wouldn’t do a PhD unless I could change how things are planned and how the public are informed about planning and architecture in general. You only need to look around London to see some of the mistakes of the past and if we can use the latest technology to inform the public so they can have a free and open say then maybe things will be better planned in the future. It may sound dull (and maybe that’s why I don’t get asked to many parties!) but it makes me wake up each day and think woohoo work, honestly it’s a fun job.

His perspective about the future of such technologies is also intriguing:

How do you see virtual environments in general, and Google Earth in particular, developing over the next few years?

If you look at chat systems using avatars such as Second Life and then merge it with Google Earth I think that’s the one to watch. To fly into the cities of the world and have people walking around them as avatars would suddenly make an inhabited virtual earth. I can see this happening in the next few years.