JPI Urban Europe/NSFC SustaInable Mobility and Equality in mega-ciTy RegIons: patterns, mechanisms and governance

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

Abstract

We will develop a world-class science platform relevant to political decision-makers responsible for housing, transport, employment and urban development in the world's biggest mega-city region, the Pearl River Delta Greater Bay Area. This platform integrates work on inequality indicators and predicting future land use and transport developed in western Europe in London and the Randstad with related work in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, producing a system that will use state-of-the-art simulation models, big data from routine transport, and new ways of using information technology for participatory governance. We argue that such a platform is essential for the very largest cities which are qualitatively different from smaller cities. The platform developed here would be a world first.

The 21st century will be dominated by very large urban agglomerations, qualitatively different from those big cities that our contemporary analytical understanding and models of governance are able to handle. The growth of these mega-city regions is heavily influenced by the fusion of existing cities as well as by rapid continental scale migration. This growth is generating severe problems of social segregation, connectivity, mobility, and income inequalities that require new and powerful methods of analytical understanding such as those being developed using real-time 'big' data sources and new information technologies. We propose to develop the platform for prediction and urban governance using the Pearl River Delta 'Greater Bay Area' mega-city region as a demonstrator, bringing sustainability indicators and simulation models from the Greater London and urban Holland (the Randstad) regions to inform the development of an urban data and simulation platform relevant to designing and testing scenarios for new modes of transport and the alleviation of socio-economic inequalities in the Bay Area. These problems, we believe, will be key to mega-city regions during the rest of this century. The project will:
(1) integrate already developed Land Use Transportation Interaction (LUTI) models for London and the Randstad with ongoing cellular development and transport models for the Greater Bay Area, (2) develop new indicators for measuring spatial efficiency and equity, (3) develop analytics to inform innovative policy analysis and governance, and (4) demonstrate these tools in association with planning agencies and government across the region.

CASA (The Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis) in University College London (UCL) will coordinate and lead the project and the consortium of seven partners will be based on the GIS group at Birkbeck University of London (BBK), the Geocomputation group at King's College London (KCL), the School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA), the Geomatics Department and Smart Cities Institute at Shenzhen University (SZU), the Shenzhen Institute of Research and Innovation in the The University of Hong Kong (HKU-SIRI) at Shenzhen, and the Department of Geography at Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU).

Planned Impact

Our project is firmly embedded in the various governments that comprise the Greater Bay Area where SYSU, SZU and HK-SIRI have long-standing links to agencies including Urban Planning Land & Resource Commission of Shenzhen Municipality, Housing and Construction Bureau of Shenzhen Municipality, Transport Commission of Shenzhen Municipality, Guangzhou Land Resources and Planning Commission, Guangzhou City Planning Design & Research Institute that have responsibility for future urban development in the region. The urban data platform will comprise the core set of tools that will be used to generate a series of planning scenarios that will be defined with respect to these agencies once the platform has been constructed. These agencies will advise on the extent to which various sustainable development goals might be achieved in the region and identify the problems of making this happen. Although the European partners do not have detailed knowledge of the Bay Area agencies, they do have their own experiences in relating this kind of data and simulation work to key issues of climate change. Batty has been involved in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Cities Project which was an integrated assessment of the impact of sea level rise in the London region using various models while Koomen ran the AESUS project examining similar issues in the Netherlands. (Batty was an advisor to this project: see below section 11). At the time of writing, Yeh has been awarded a grant by the HK SAR to research "Economic development between Hong-Kong and the Big Bay Area" which will be key to enabling the whole region to aim towards greater economic and social sustainability.

We consider the various websites and online tools as well as access to online data that the urban platform will develop to be strong outlets for integrating this research with local stakeholders and for communicating the results of the project to a range of stakeholders from working scientists involved on other aspects of the region's development to political decision-makers as well as to an informed public. The deployment of the platform will be paralleled by various research into the most appropriate ways of engaging citizen participation and the delivery of related services. In this sense, we consider that this research will have a major impact on the planning of the entire region.

We also consider that publicizing our tools beyond the domain of planning and the public sector is important. Many of the tools we are developing are relevant to private concerns involving transport, housing, land development and land regulation as well as waste, water and related physical-natural elements of the built environment. We will take every opportunity to progress these ideas across all sectors and we consider such extensions to be key elements in any future development of this project, after the funding for which we are now seeking, ends.

Last but not least as we have indicated, the applicability of our platform goes well beyond the Greater Bay Area because we envisage it having relevance to many world mega-city regions, in other parts of Europe and Asia Pacific as well as the Americas and Australasia. We are conscious that although the tools we proposed have relevance to mega-city regions in the Global South, the platform would require adaptations if it were to be applied to mega-city regions in lesser developing countries.

Publications

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