GUSTAVO ROMANILLOS, PROFESSOR AT MCS: “My students learn how to use IT-based analytics tools and models in a creative, critical and sensible way.”
Gustavo Romanillos (36 years old) is an architect that works as researcher, lecturer and consultant, now essentially focussed on the spatial analysis of urban dynamics and social behaviour. In addition, he is a professor at MCS.
Can you explain the content of your lectures at MCS to us?
I show the students the research I’ve been conducting over the last few years about using online maps as tools for collecting new data, then visualizing, analysing and making decisions based on that data.
What is the biggest lesson that your students should learn after taking your class?
To use IT- based analytic tools and models in a creative, critical and sensible way, without oversimplifying the complexity of the (contemporary) city.
And, if possible, there is a second idea I consider important. It is worth keeping Cedric Price’s quote in mind: “Technology is the answer, but what is the question? “ We need to focus on the search of interesting and transcendent topics to deal with. There is a whole world of real necessities and opportunities out there waiting for us, our energy and our time.
Why is so important to study at MCS if you’re interested in the Smart Cities field?
Because of the truly interdisciplinary approach it offers, in a field in which this is really essential.
Which are the job opportunities from this masters?
Students come from very different backgrounds and the masters program deals with cross cutting subjects and issues, so we don’t expect them to wait for a clearly defined exit door. I just think the students finish the masters with great experience, learning a new language that allows them to communicate with people in very different specializations, and this communication could be the best base for starting new projects and developing great ideas.
Have you developed any projects with a student or professor at MCS?
I’ve been working together with other lecturers of the masters on a European project, INSIGHT, which aims at developing new models and tools for a better urban planning and governance, and which is essentially based on the use of new and unconventional data sources. The project is focused on the analysis of four case studies: Barcelona, Madrid, London and Rotterdam.
Can you tell us more about the projects you’re currently working on?
I’m currently involved in different research projects that have much in common with the masters programme. In addition to the INSIGHT project that I mentioned before, I recently finished the Leon Emergente Project, a digital, dynamic and collaborative atlas for the city of León in Nicaragua and together with the research group I belong to we are currently launching a new research network focused on the use of Big Data for the analysis of social phenomena.
Furthermore, I am also developing a new model to design optimal cycling networks in large urban areas, and the model is based on the analysis of thousands of real cycling routes collected throughout Madrid from volunteers. For this reason, I created and launched the Madrid Cycle Track initiative, which basically consists of an online platform. Part of the research was recently published in the UrbanNext journal.
Finally, last year I started a research collaboration at the Metrocreativa project, which analyses creative social initiatives in Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Madrid and I recently started to work on the creation of the new Guatemala City Lab for the City of Guatemala, working together with the Smart City Unit of the Municipality in a project funded by the United Nations Development Programme.