|M.Sc Student||Gath-Morad Michal|
|Subject||A Virtual City Simulation Platform to Assess the Effects|
of Information and Communication Technologies on
Pedestrian Navigation in Urban Settings
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisors||Professor Yehuda Kalay|
|Professor Pnina Plaut|
|Full Thesis text|
The Integration of modern ICT’s in urban settings is having a profound effect on people’s
spatial decision making processes across a host of everyday urban activities - from the basic
act of walking to socializing, cycling, consuming and more. All over the world, and especially
in complex urban settings, individual’s spatial decision making processes, which were until
now based on past and perceptual knowledge of the urban setting, are being augmented with
real time spatial information coming from ICT based "smart environments", able to sense,
process, communicate and actuate.
The ubiquity of ICT in cities makes real-time spatial information highly accessible to
individuals who aim to optimize their personal goals, in ways which are unprecedented in
the history of cities. How does this comply or conflict with planners and architects design
intentions? And more importantly how can we assess the implications of ICT on people’s
spatial behavior in cities, before committing spatial changes with far reaching results?
The aim of this thesis is to explore the potential implications of integrating ICT’s in
complex urban systems. Unlike the technologically driven discourse on “smart cities”, in
which the basic premise is that the mere integration of ICT’s in urban spaces will make the
city more efficient, sustainable, livable and in general “smarter”, the premise of this thesis is
that urban “smartness” is a far more complex notion.
In order to understand if, and to what degree cities will be made “smarter” via ICT, we argue that it is first required to gain an in-depth understanding of how ICT effect the low level spatial decision making of the city’s most dynamic and intelligent particles - its people.
The chosen domain of application is that of pedestrian navigation in urban settings, a spatial decision making process which is highly dependent on spatial information. Subsequently, ICT’s potential to affect this process and its output spatial behavior could transform how, when, and where people walk, having a direct effect on urban dynamics and a host of urban performance measures.
The research question aims to reveal the effects of ICT’s on individual pedes-trians’
spatial navigation behavior in urban settings. Despite the body of literature that
investigates pedestrian movement in cities, existing models fail to account for these newly
emerging, ICT driven spatial patterns, which if ignored, could lead to a misfit between the
intended design and its actual use.
In order to mitigate this knowledge gap and gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between pedestrian movement, urban settings and ICT, we explore the use of participatory simulations in Immersive Virtual Environments (IVE), as a testing ground in which individual navigation behavior in ICT integrated urban settings could be observed, measured and spatially analyzed.
Upon analyzing the research results it is revealed that ICT had an observable effect on pedestrians spatial behavior and route choice. The affordance of participatory simulation in
Immersive Virtual Reality (IVE) to evaluate the effect of ICT on cities, through its effects
on individuals spatial behavior, is critically discussed, stating its limitations and strengths