Jonathan Reades
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Personal profile

Research interests (short)

My research draws on geographical theory and ‘quantitative social science’ methods to address contemporary challenges in urban and regional development. My experience in planning and geography, as well as data and programming, enables me to translate concepts and applications across disciplinary boundaries while paying attention to the details of data, method, and context. 

Thematic Research Areas

  • Theme 1: Smart Cities & ‘Big Data’ – I work with event data from urban infrastructures to understand human behaviour, contextualising these insights as part of planning and governance.
  • Theme 2: Economic Geography – I focus on ‘knowledge economy’, and the interactions between individuals and organisations, to understand the developmental trajectories of cities.
  • Theme 3: Housing – I am interested in quantitative and computational approaches to understanding the relationship of housing to tenure and demography.

Methodological Research Areas

  • Theme 4: From Open Data to Open Teaching & Reproducible Research – I am interested in how open data and tools (both new and old) create opportunities for more robust, replicable and accessible teaching and research.
  • Theme 5: Emerging & Overlooked Quantiative Methods – I seek to understand the implications of machine learning and older analytical approaches for high-dimensional human and environmental geodata. 

Research interests

The main focus of my research over the past five years has been the mining of telecommunications and transportation data sets to provide insight into human socio-economic behaviour at the urban, regional, and national scales. The breadth and depth of these data sets has enabled me to pursue a wide range of interests including: firm internationalisation and location choice, social network analysis, disruption effects in public transit and airline systems, and constraints on access to opportunity in London.

Looking forward, I hope to begin bringing in some historical perspective: working to produce a book that looks back at nearly 120 years of location theory; exploring the historical growth of Britain's telecommunications system; and examining the connection between telecommunications/ICT usage and London's innovative small firms. The other area of interest is in quantification: improving our understanding and prediction of how disruptions produced by weather, crowding, or security issues produce knock-on effects on nearby stations through the integration of usage data and better modelling of route choice by transit users; and looking for ways to measure the relationships embodied in the social networks of businesses.

Biographical details

I joined the department as Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography at the start of 2013. Previously, I had been a Research Associate for two years at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis following the completion of his MPhil/PhD at the Bartlett School of Planning. He also holds a B.A. (1997) in Comparative Literature from Princeton University.

In the intervening years, Jon worked for a database mining and marketing start-up based in New York and London in a range of capacities: graphic designer, web application developer, and project manager. This work stimulated his interest in 'big data' and its potential as a platform for examining and acting upon 'smart cities'. In his research, Jon has collaborated with public and private sector organisations such as Transport for London, Telecom Italia, AT&T, British Telecom, and IBM's Smarter Cities lab near Dublin.

Tying these collaborations and research interests together is a long-standing interest in the impact that communications technologies are having on our society and economy: on access to opportunity and mobility; on firm location, clustering, and growth; and on our understanding of human interaction on a vast scale.

I blog periodically on these issues at and tweet under @jreades.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, The Place of Telecommunications: Spatial Decision-Making by Firms in the Age of Global Communications, UCL University College London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2011

Bachelor of Arts, The Mass Media and Democracy, Princeton University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1997


  • HA Statistics
  • spatial statistics
  • GA Mathematical geography. Cartography
  • quantitative
  • big data
  • G Geography (General)
  • HE Transportation and Communications
  • mobile
  • smart cities
  • Oyster
  • public transit


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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