May 31, 2009

GIS and Remote Sensing for Urban Sprawl and Planning

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

By. Manishika Jain
With the increased rate of rural-urban migration and population growth in the present years, study of urban development has gained a lot of momentum. As a result of these two basic phenomena the city tends to expand outwards to accommodate the ever increasing population pressure on the confined land resources. This process is termed as sprawl. Any land use pattern that has low values on one or more of eight distinct dimensions of land use patterns, density, continuity, concentration, nuclearity, diversity, proximity and centrality is to be considered as sprawl (Galster et al. 2001). Sprawl must be considered in a space-time context; not simply as an increase of urban lands in a given area, but the rate of increase relative to population growth. Sprawl may be said to occur when the rate at which land is converted to non-agricultural uses exceeds the pace of economic development.

Not only is the amount of rural land lost to sprawl a key issue from an environmental and agricultural perspective but the amount of rural land loss and urban expansion is also significant to the quality of life of urban dwellers. The larger an urban area, the more difficult it will be for the average resident to reach the open spaces beyond the urban perimeter, the increase in urban distances can also affect commuting time and mobility.

Importance of GIS and Remote Sensing in Urban Planning

The spatial depiction of the public amenities and infrastructural facilities can be made quite user friendly with application of GIS. This also holds true for the private organizations as they can chalk out the consumer load, the paying capacity of the consumers in different region and develop the organization accordingly.

Real time traffic data combined with accurate maps can be very effective in reducing the response time for emergency services. Also GIS can help determine spatial and temporal distribution of natural resources and type of activities that are damaging the natural wealth of the nation. With this information the authorities can take preemptive steps in specific regions to promote the cause of conservation of natural resources. Similarly spatial demographic information combined with land usage can be used to determine the land price hike and for setting the economic policies of the region.

GIS can also be applied to the relatively newer concept of multilevel parking needs in the developing nation. This is important because even relatively smaller urban centers (like Udaipur, India) are experiencing severe parking pressure in certain areas, forcing the consumers to walk for kilometers, in turn hurting business and increasing pedestrian accidents.

GIS can help in providing information about crime rate and types of crime in the various city-sectors and in different cities. This information should be mapped and made available on the internet. This would make people aware and help them take judicious decisions about their movement across different parts of the nation. Several cities across US provide regional crime database to citizens. Making such information publicly available also promotes competition among the authorities of different cities, because best talent and companies would like to establish themselves in the safest cities.

GIS and remote sensing techniques can also help in tackling problems related to traffic, encroachments, air and noise pollution water and power supply etc. If the relevant spatial information is made available to the planners, they can take much better and fine grained policy decisions to solve these problems.

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