Trivik Verma

Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Policy

Delft University of Technology

I am an Assistant Professor at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management in Delft University of Technology. I lead the Computational Urban Science and Policy research group at the department of Multi-Actor Systems. I am in the advisory team of the TPM AI Lab and also an active member of the Dutch Network Science community and the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering.

My research in focusses on the science of cities. In our group, we model urban spaces at the intersection of data science and complex systems engineering in the frame of infrastructure development, meso-scale mobility prediction, and human well-being. I am particularly interested in the design of methods to aid in understanding urbanization processes and evaluating the effectiveness and implications of policies for the development of growing urban spaces and equitable use of resources.

Through my research, I have discovered that most systems have a tendency to form a core-periphery network that brings an imbalance in the distribution of resources in society. My research and education thus concentrate on understanding and designing urban spaces through the lens of social cohesion and inclusion.

I also instruct on remote expeditions for National Geographic where high school students have the opportunity to learn about conservation, anthropology, engineering and policy. Previously, I helped build a media and technology startup dedicated to the cause of making this planet a healthier place through authentic journalism and data science at The Outdoor Journal.

Multiple cities in the world are at the brink of collapse. Jakarta and Cairo are rebuilding their capitals following examples of Rio and Yangon. Space is not a problem: Los Angeles alone can accommodate 7 billion people standing shoulder-width apart. It is largely the decay of social, economic, climate, health and infrastructure systems in tandem that drives urban regions to disintegrate. The reasons for these collapses are camouflaged by failures in urban planning and policy across a range of ecosystems.

Cities are occupied by an increasing diversity of citizens with varying needs and requirements. We rely on infrastructure to continuously move, innovate and even survive. With differences in needs and availability of resources, the focus of governments is on sustainable development and deployment of new services to bridge inequalities among its citizens. More importantly, without understanding the unintended consequences of rapid technological innovation, policies inevitably force vulnerable populations to the brink of societal boundaries, thereby, promoting and reinforcing societal divides.

Our research group focusses on Urban Science and Policy. Urban Science is the study of urban issues in complex societies. It is an interdisciplinary field that leverages urban theory, and roots it in firm insights from data analytics. Policy frameworks that use the paradigm of urban science provide more holistic insights into decision-making cycles of governments and policymakers.

We broadl classify our research in three categories: form, flow and function of cities. Form relates to the morphology of the built environment. Cities are organised around neighbourhoods where populations have diverse and unequal access to infrastructural resources, jobs and livelihoods. In order to earn a living, humans flow across cities. In urban planning, estimation of mobility patterns is the biggest problem.

Our research is based on four pillars of Data, Discovery, Dynamics and Development of urban living spaces such as cities. We work with municipal councils of various cities to collect and analyze large scale social datasets for discovering knowledge about social relationships and use of urban infrastructure. This knowledge establishes the bases for asking the right research questions with respect to a sustainable life in cities for all peoples. Using computational modelling and system dynamics we combine the science of data with modelling and simulation techniques to find vulnerabilities and pathways in decision-making for future development within cities and urban spaces.

Our group focusses on the problems of urban morphology, transportation systems, human mobility, population dynamics, and social values. We employ several methods and techniques from diverse areas such as

  • Complex Network Theory
  • Dynamical Systems
  • Computational Statistics
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Machine Learning
  • Visualisation