About

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Director, UK ESRC Urban Big Data Centre,
Halcrow Chair of Transport,
Professor of Urban Studies,
Affiliated Professor of School of Engineering
University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Full CV: ThakuriahCVApril142014.pdf

Vonu Thakuriah is Halcrow Chair of Transport, Professor of Urban Studies and Affiliated Professor of the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow.

Dr. Thakuriah’s research is focused on the intersection of transportation, society and technology with the view that sustainable and socially-just mobility in cities of the future will require planners to jointly consider social and technological challenges. She is interested in “smart” public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian active transportation, as well as in collaborative/shared transportation systems. Her research has considered the needs of a wide spectrum of travelers including low-wage workers, seniors, persons with disabilities and young adults.

Some of her publications may be found in this site, while others are in http://glasgow.academia.edu/VonuThakuriah

Prior to her current position at the University of Glasgow, she was a professor in the University of Illinois at Chicago and postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, both in the US. Vonu has published over 165 journal papers, conference proceedings and technical reports and has been involved in research grants of over $38.3 million.

Regarding social aspects of transportation, she is interested in questions relating to equity and human capital, and ways in which these links vary over space and time. Research methods supporting this line of work include evaluation designs, indicators, decision support systems, survey research methods and statistical/econometric modeling, to measure labor-market, health, safety and other outcomes experienced by travelers. Vonu served as the Principal Investigator of a series of research grants to study mobility and accessibility outcomes experienced by low-wage workers, persons with disabilities and seniors. This work was funded by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration and the Community Transportation Association of America together with the US Department of Labor.

Vonu is interested in the potential of technology to foster environmental, human, and economic sustainability. She is focusing on methods to mine vast amounts of real-time sensor and user-generated “Big Data”, as well as to understand the social, organizational and behavioral consequences of living in an increasingly ubiquitous information society. Of recent interest has been the role of Open Data, civic hacking, informal information networks and emerging digital infomediaries in cities. Her research on ICT-related aspects of transportation has been funded by, among others, the US National Science Foundation and the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. Dr. Thakuriah is the author of the book Transportation and Information: Trends in Technology and Policy published by Springer.

One of her core areas of interest is urban data, including social media, web-based User Generated Content, and data from infrastructure-based sensors. Examples of recent work include the use of machine learning for weather-responsive traffic speed forecasting in transport networks and text-mining to analyze formal organizations and informal networks supporting ICT-based activities in cities. Her work has supported the creation of an urban linked data infrastructure in the Chicago metropolitan area that brings together a variety of simple and complex urban indicators using administrative, survey and sensing data, as well as modeled content from transportation and other urban and regional models. She has also created linked data infrastructure using social surveys such as the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the Current Population Survey, the US Census and other sources of data which supported her work on the evaluation of employment transportation for low-wage workers.

Vonu has consulted on or otherwise collaborated on transportation projects in Malaysia, China, India, Australia, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. She is a founding co-chair of the joint subcommittee on Computational Transportation and Society of the Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, which is focusing on the computational, design, analytics, social and legal aspects of Big Data for mobility and accessibility. She is currently the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA Journal).

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