Xiaofan Liang

Xiaofan Liang

Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning

University of Michigan

I am an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. My research is driven by a passion for fostering inclusive networks and enabling participatory/collaborative planning processes through urban analytics. My approaches are largely inspired by the field of network science, complex systems, and critical & participatory approaches in GIS and planning, thus grounding my research in the pursuit of a diverse, equitable, and sustainable network society. These interests and approaches are rooted in my past research experience at GeorgiaTech Friendly Cities Lab, NUS Urban Analytics Lab, and Santa Fe Institute.

My current work focuses on two themes: 1) exmaining how network infrastructure (e.g., transportation and social infrastructure) can simultaneously be inclusive and exclusive, offering connectivity and access for certain populations, places, or types of flows, while marginalizing or restricting others, 2) exploring how data, technology, and AI can support, transform, or challenge participatory practices in planning. These two themes build on my dissertation: Connectivity for whom and at what cost: contesting network infrastructure duality in urban planning.

Interests
  • Spatial Social Networks
  • Urban Analytics (GIS, Computational Methods, Agent-based Modeling, etc.)
  • Inclusive Social Infrastructure and Transportation Planning
  • Digital Civics, Critical Data, and Participatory and Collaborative Planning
Education
  • MCRP/PhD in City and Regional Planning, 2019-2023

    Georgia Institute of Technology

  • BS in Computational Science, 2015-2019

    Minerva University

  • BA in Sociology, 2013-2015

    University of California - Berkeley

News

๐Ÿ“„ [New!] My new paper titled Intercity Connectivity and Urban Innovation is published in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems! This paper takes FIVE years to publiation, involves collaborators from TRHEE continents, and processed millions of data for SIX intercity networks to understand the relationship between intercity connectivity and innovation. An interactive network data dashboard is available for exploration and data can be downloaded (March 1st).

๐Ÿ”ˆ [New!] I will be giving a talk titled Beyond Nodes and Edges: Integrating Spatial Contexts into Urban Network Science at UMich Center for the Study of Complex Systems on March 26th. See event details here. (March 1st)

๐Ÿ”ˆ [CLOSED] I am hiring three UMich undergraduate/graduate hourly research student assistants for Winter 2024. See job descriptions and application details here. Application review will start on Jan 14th. (Jan. 10)

๐Ÿ“š I successfully defended my PhD dissertation Connectivity for Whom and at What Cost: Contesting Network Infrastructure Duality in Urban Planning. I will start my Assistant Professor position at UMich in Jan 2024 (Dec. 6th).

๐Ÿ“„ My new paper with collaborators titled Impacts of COVID-19 on Biodiversity Conservation and Community Networks at Kibale National Park, Uganda is published in The Professional Geographers for early view! In the paper, I mapped how COVID-19 affects the research field station employees’ economic networks (September 28th, 2023).

Recent Publications

(2024). Intercity Connectivity and Urban Innovation. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 109, 102092.

PDF Cite Project DOI Data Interactive Map

(2023). Connectivity for whom and at what cost: contesting network infrastructure duality in urban planning. PhD Thesis at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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(2023). Impacts of COVID-19 on Biodiversity Conservation and Community Networks at Kibale National Park, Uganda. The Professional Geographer, 1-14.

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(2023). Is Your Neighbor Your Friend? Scan Methods for Spatial Social Network (SSN) Hotspot Detection. Transactions in GIS, 27(3), 607-625.

PDF Cite Project DOI Tutorial R package

(2022). Data-driven Humanitarian Mapping and Policymaking: Toward Planetary-Scale Resilience, Equity, and Sustainability. In Proceedings of the 28th ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD โ€™22), August 14โ€“18, 2022, Washington, DC, USA (Workshop Summary).

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(2022). Characteristics of Jetters and Little Boxes: An Extensibility Study Using the Neighborhood Connectivity Survey. Social Inclusion, 10(3).

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(2021). A Review of Spatial Network Insights and Methods in the Context of Planning: Applications, Challenges, and Opportunities. In book: Urban Informatics and Future Cities (pp.71-91).

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(2021). Measuring McCities: Landscapes of chain and independent restaurants in the United States. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 49(2), 585-602.

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Projects

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Where Does Social Infrastructure Exist Near Subway Stations? A Global Assessment Using OpenStreetMap Data
In some places, subway stations thrive with social infrastructure, while others find themselves in underdeveloped areas, surrounded by vast parking lots. Where are places where these two infrastructure co-exist, and what factors are associated with the divide?
Where Does Social Infrastructure Exist Near Subway Stations? A Global Assessment Using OpenStreetMap Data
Detecting vacant, abandoned, and disinvested properties in Savannah Georgia through human-in-the-loop machine learning
What are the main factors that are predictive of blighted properties in the city of Savannah? How can we build a predictive model with housing experts’ local knowledge “in the loop”?
Detecting vacant, abandoned, and disinvested properties in Savannah Georgia through human-in-the-loop machine learning
Place Social Diversity Explorer
A D3 explorer to show the racial and income diversity of people visiting point of interests (POI) in Atlanta. What kinds of POI are most/least diverse and where do they locate?
Place Social Diversity Explorer
Measuring McCities: Landscapes of Chain and Independent Restaurants in the United States
Which cities most resemble McCities? What kinds of built environment and sociodemographic characteristics are associated with the prevelance of chain restaurants?
Measuring McCities: Landscapes of Chain and Independent Restaurants in the United States
Systematic Shifts in Scaling Behavior Based on Organizational Strategy in Universities
Some colleges are mammals, others are cities. How scale of universities affect factors like tuition, research production, and teaching salaries? What are the tradeoffs and constraints for universities to be scale efficiently?
Systematic Shifts in Scaling Behavior Based on Organizational Strategy in Universities

Teaching

Fall 2024

URP 610/UT 402 Urban Networks

Cities contain many interconnected networks for infrastructure, human mobility, and relationships. This elective introduces students to concepts and analytical methods for urban network analysis, including conceptualizing, analyzing, and visualizing cities as networks and fostering a critical perspective on how urban networks reflect and reproduce urban inequality. Students will analyze both spatial and social networks and discuss their applications in urban transportation, social justice, and governance. The course will be taught with lectures and hands-on analytical labs. The labs will use Gephi, SNoMaN software, and the R programming language. Prior programming experience is not required but recommended.

URP 506 Planning Methods

This course introduces students to essential methods and techniques used in planning practice and urban research. Analytic approaches include research design, multivariate regression, population forecasting, survey research, case study research, evaluation, and graphic data presentation. The emphasis is on methods in the context of planning and urban policy research, and matching the methods to the problem. We will cover computer applications for data analysis, including some computer lab time scheduled periodically through the semester.

Winter 2024

URP 535/UT 402 Introduction to Urban Informatics

This course provides students an introduction to the technical, theoretical and practice-based dimensions of urban informatics, an interdisciplinary field of research and practice that uses data and information technology for the analysis, management, planning, inhabitation, and usability of cities. Situated at the intersection of digital technologies and the human environments, this course situates itself at the emergence of new disciplinesโ€” urban science, big data, smart cities, civic technologies among others. The course is centered around technical lectures interspersed with guest presentations and class debates grouped into five topical categoriesโ€”data acquisition, numerical analysis, mapping and spatialization, visualization and interaction, and civic technologies. Students will also have an opportunity to develop their projectโ€”based on their research questionโ€”that combines these technical aspects in a final analysis and demonstration. Within the seminar and lecture sessions, we will discuss the policy and design questions around the creation of, and use of urban data within the language of urbanism. Seminar and lecture sessions cover topics related to the context and practice models associated with urban technologies, including civic technology, indicators, smart cities, and performance management.