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Jonathan Reades

Dr Jonathan Reades



Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1372

Department of Geography 
Office: Bush House North East Wing, Room 5.12



Jon joined the department as Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography at the start of 2013. Previously, Jon 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. More recently, Jon has been exploring the use of the mobile phone as a platform for data collection on social and economic change at the national scale and would be very interested in working with researchers focussed on the use of this network as a tool in developing countries.

Research interests
  • Smart Cities & ‘Big Data’
  • Location & Infrastructure Networks 
  • New Data, Open Data & ‘Old’ Methods
  • Housing & Socio-Economic Trends

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 databases and programming, enables me to translate concepts and applications across disciplinary boundaries while paying attention to the details of the data, the methods, and the definition of appropriate research questions.

Focus Areas

• Smart Cities & ‘Big Data’ – I work with event data from urban infrastructure systems to understand human behaviour, while also contextualising these insights in relationship to governance and politics. 

• Economic Geography & Infrastructure Networks – I focus on how firms select ‘optimal’ locations by balancing access to infrastructures to build up a ‘big picture’ of the trajectories of urban and regional economies.

• New, Open Data & ‘Old’ Methods – I am interested in how new, often open, data sources create opportunities to revisit ideas about urban form and function, and to re-evaluate neglected methods.

• Housing & Tenure – I am interested in ways to understand the relationship of housing to tenure and demography using data about supply and demand in the property market.


Professor Sir Richard Trainor PhD Scholarship

£45,000 Funding for doctoral research into: Drones for Development? Evaluating the technical, economic, political and cultural contexts affecting the potential for UAV adoption in less-developed and less-connected regions. First supervisor.

Professor Sir Richard Trainor PhD Scholarship  2015–2018

£45,000 Funding for doctoral research into: Building the Smart City: Managing the interface between urban governance and big data. Second supervisor.

AHRC Science Museum Group/BT Archives Collaborative Doctoral Awards

More than £45,000 funding for collaborative PhD involving BT Archives and the Science Museum: Mapping the Historical Growth & Cultural Context of the British Fixed Line Network

Geo-CUP: Linux on a USB key platform for Geocomputation

£3,500 funding to research and equipment to develop, test, and deploy an open source computing platform for undergraduate specialism in Geocomputation & Spatial Analysis.

UCL 'Big Data Sandpit’ Grant

£15,000 to prototype a location-aware mobile healthcare application. 

PhD topics

Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, I am particularly interested in hearing from doctoral students considering - or already engaged in - research in any of the following areas:

  • Social and economic networks and their impact on urban form, accessibility, and opportunity
  • Firms, clusters and regional growth or decline
  • Examination of large behavioural data sets to derive insight into dynamic, contemporary socioeconomic activity (e.g. creative cities; transport & journey to work; communications and globalisation)
  • Innovative applications of mobile phones/other devices to data collection challenges in developed and developing countries

I think that the nexus of 'big data' and urban growth creates fascinating new opportunities and challenges for researchers: there are very real privacy issues associated with the mining of cellular data, but also the possibility of empowering users through direct, real-time access to data about themselves and their environment. 

The nature of this type of research currently requires that students already have a fairly developed ideas of where the data they propose to work with will come from, and a nascent professional network that will enable them to reach the right people at the right level, though I would be more than happy to support this process in terms of data management, privacy issues, Non-Disclosure Agreements, and other regulatory issues. 

Much of this type of work also calls for students who are comfortable working with data and applications in some capacity: SQL database/NoSQL storage design and management experience (along with an understanding of normalisation) is a huge plus, as are knowledge of Java, Python, or Perl. However, none of these are essential if the applicant is motivated and willing to engage in active learning through the range of courses on offer at King's.




Curriculum Design & Development: Geocomputation & Spatial Analysis 

Co-developed & launched new ‘quantitative pathway’ for undergraduate students. Designed module sequence to address expected skills gaps and produce students able to programme, perform spatial statistical analysis, and manage & visualise large spatial data sets.

4SSG1011: Practicing Geographical Inquiry Joint Lecturer

Lecture on qualitative research and survey design (BA:BSc Geography).

4SSG1008 Tutor  

Bi-weekly small group tutorials on core skills for 1st year students.

5SSG2048: Geographical Research Skills Module Co-ordinator 

Oversee module aims and coordinate contributions from teaching staff (BA/BSc Geography)

5SSG2048  Methods in Human Geography Module Co-ordinator

Oversee module aims and coordinate contributions from teaching staff (BA Geography)

5SSG2062: Geocomputation Joint Lecturer

Lecture on statistics and programming (BSc Geocomputation)

5SSG2063: Spatial Analysis Joint Lecturer

Lecture on spatial statistics and programming (BSc Geocomputation)

5SSG2058: Urban Geography Joint Lecturer

Lecture on cities, regions, innovation & location (BA Geography)

5SSG2047: Field Trip Joint Supervisor

Organise tours of Silicon Valley and project-based visits to Google, Facebook, LendUp, AirBnB, as well as venture capital investors

6SSG3061: Current Research Joint Lecturer

Lecture on ‘big data’ and privacy (BA:BSc Geography)



7SSG5150: Advanced Quantitative & Spatial Methods in Human Geography Lecturer

Lecture on visualisation, statistics & spatial analysis (MSc Creative Cities; MSc Geography)

Impact, innovation and outreach


The nature of my research into ‘big data’ and geographic visualisation means that it has appeal across a wide range of disciplines and publications: my work with Oyster card data has featured in The Atlantic CitiesThe Economist, and Wired, while my collaboration with MIT around calling data was covered by the BBC, The Times, and The Economist.

I am also a regular speaker at ‘Smart Cities’ and similar events, including Digital Life Design (Learning about London from the Olympics, 2012), Modelling World Conference (From Big Data to Community Engagement, 2012), and Transport Ticketing Conference (Open Data & Visualisation, 2012).

I have also contributed to the Transmission Working Group of the midata programme, hosted by BIS, that is designed to empower consumers through providing automatic access to the data held by utilities on their behalf. This output has been fed through to a consumer data bill currently in Parliament.


My interests in geo-visualisation have led to a library available for the Processing framework. The ‘MapThing’ library enables users to quickly visualise geographical data by loading shape files and geographically linked text files into the visualisation window, and to quickly perform simple graphing and plotting functions for spatial data.

I have also been engaged in two start-ups attempting to connect ‘big data’ to spatial analysis in terms of local area dynamics and aspects of location-based marketing and geo-fences.


For a full list of Dr Reades' publications, please see his research profile.


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