Chapter 7: Rural and Urban Landscapes

Enduring Understandings

  • The form, function, and size of urban settlements are continually changing.
  • Models help to understand the distribution and size of cities.
  • Models of internal city structure and urban development provide a framework for urban analysis.
  • Built landscapes and social space reflect the attitudes and values of a population.
  • Urban areas face economic, social, political, cultural and environmental challenges.

7.1 Defining Cities and Urban Centers

Cities and Metropolises

Must of us are “city people,” whether we like it or not. Many people say they do not like the city, with its noise, pollution, crowds, and crime, but living outside the city has its challenges as well. Living outside a city is inconvenient because rural areas lack access to the numerous amenities found in cities. The clustering of activities within a small space is called agglomeration, and it reduces the friction of distance for thousands of daily activities. Cities are convenient places for people to live, work, and play. Convenience has economic consequences, as well. Reduced costs associated with transportation, and the ability to share expenses for infrastructure creates what is known as economies of agglomeration, which is the fundamental reason for cities. The convenience and economic benefits of city life have led nearly 8 in 10 Americans to live in urban areas. In California, America’s most urban state, almost 95% of its people live in a city. This chapter explores the evolution of cities, why cities are where they are, and how the geography of cities affects the way urbanites live.

Though it seems simple enough, distinguishing cities from rural areas is not always that easy. Countries around the world have generated a plethora of definitions based on a variety of urban characteristics. Part of the reason stems from the fact that defining what constitutes urban is somewhat arbitrary. Cities are also hard to identify because they look and function quite differently in different parts of the world. Complicating matters are the great variety of terms we use to label a group of people living together. Hamlets are tiny, rural communities. Villages are slightly larger. Towns are larger than villages. Cities are larger than towns. Then there are words like metropolis and even megalopolis to denote huge cities. Some states in the United States have legal definitions for these terms, but most do not. The United States Census Bureau creates the only consistent definition of “city,” and it uses the terms “rural” and “urban” to distinguish cities from non-city regions. This definition has been updated several times since the 1800s, most radically in recent years as the power of GIS has allowed the geographers are working for the U.S. Census Bureau to consider multiple factors simultaneously. It can get involved.

For decades, the U.S. Census Bureau recognized an area as “urban” if it had incorporated itself as a city or a town. Incorporation indicates that a group of residents successfully filed a town charter with their local state government, giving them the right to govern themselves within a specific space within the state. Until recently, the U.S. Census Bureau classified almost any incorporated area with at least 2,500 people as “urban.”

There were problems though with that simple definition. Some areas which had quite large populations but were unincorporated, failed to meet the old definition or urban. For example, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Arlington, Virginia, are not incorporated, therefore they were technically labeled “census-designated places,” rather than cities. Conversely, some incorporated areas may have very few people. This can happen when a city loses population, or when the boundaries of a city extend far beyond the populated core of the city. Jacksonville, Florida, is the classic example of this problem. Jacksonville annexed so much territory that its city limits extend far into the adjacent countryside, making it the largest city in land area in the United States (874.3 square miles!).

Therefore, the Census Bureau created a complex set of criteria capable of evaluating a variety of conditions that define any location as urban or rural. Among the criteria now used by the Census is a minimum population density of 1,000 people per square mile, regardless of whether the location is incorporated or not. Additionally, a territory that includes non-residential but still urban land uses is included. Therefore, areas with factories, businesses, or a large airport, that contains few residences still counted as part of a city. The Census uses a measure of surface imperviousness to help make such a decision. This means that even a parking lot may be a factor in classifying a place as urban. Finally, the Census classifies locations that are reasonably close to an urban region if it has a population density of at least500 persons per square mile. That way, small breaks in the continuity of built-up areas do not result in the creation of multiple urban areas, but instead form a single, contiguous urban region. Therefore, people in the suburbs within five miles of the border of a larger city, are counted by the Census as residents of the urban region, associated with a central city.

City Push and Pull Factors

Cities began to form many thousands of years ago, but there is little agreement regarding why cities form. The chances are that many different factors are responsible for the rise of cities, with some cities owing to their existence to multiple factors and cities that arose as a result of more specific conditions.

Two underlying causal forces contribute to the rise of cities. Site location factors are those elements that favor the growth of a city that is found at that location. Site factors include things like the availability of water, food, good soils, a quality harbor, and characteristics that make a location easy to defend from attack. Situation factors are external elements that favor the growth of a city, such as distance to other cities, or a central location. For example, the exceptional distance invading armies have had to travel to reach Moscow, Russia has helped the city survive many wars. Most large cities have good site and situation factors.

Indeed, the earliest incarnation of cities offered residents a measure of protection against violence from outside groups for thousands of years. Living in a rural area, farming or ranching, made any family living in such isolation vulnerable to attack. Small villages could offer limited protection, but larger cities, especially those with moats, high walls, professional soldiers, and advanced weaponry, were safer.

The safest places were cities with quality defensible site locations. Many of Europe’s oldest cities were founded on defensible sites. The European feudal system was built upon an arrangement whereby the local lord/duke/king supplied protection to local rural peasants in exchange for food and taxes. For example, Paris and Montreal were founded on defensible island sites. Athens was built upon a defensible hillside, called an acropolis. The Athenian Acropolis is so famous that it is called merely, The Acropolis. On the other hand, Moscow, Russia, takes advantage of its remote situation. Both Napoleon and Hitler found out the hard way the challenges associated with attacking Moscow.

In the United States, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have primarily functioned as America’s defensive barriers, and therefore few cities are located on defensive sites. Washington, D.C. has no natural defense-related site or situation advantages. On the only occasion the U.S. was invaded, the city was overrun by the British in the War of 1812. The White House and the Capitol were burned to the ground. The poor defensibility of the American capital led to numerous calls for its relocation to a more defensible site during the 1800s. This is partly the reason, so many state-capitol buildings in the Midwest closely resemble the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.; many states were trying to lure the seat of the Federal government to their state capital.

San Francisco is the best example of a large American city founded upon the basis of its defensibility. Located on a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and a large bay, San Francisco was established where it is because of the military advantage provided by that site. San Francisco boasts two kinds of defensible site advantages. It is both a peninsula site and a sheltered harbor site. Cannons positioned on either side of the Golden Gate could fire upon any enemy ships trying to pass into the San Francisco Bay. Armies coming northward up the peninsula would be forced into a handful of narrow passes where the Spanish Army could focus their defenses. These site advantages led the Spanish to establish the fort, El Presidio Real de San Francisco, there in 1776. The U.S. Army took control of the fort in 1846, and it remained a military base until 1994.

People who possess a specific skill set to become a site factor that can significantly affect the location and growth of a city. One specialized skill set was confined to the priestly class, and proximity to religious leaders is another probable reason for the formation of cities. Priests and shamans would have likely gathered the faithful near to them, so that, as the armies of the lordly class, they could offer protection and guidance in return for food, shelter, and compensation (like tithes). The priestly class was also the primary vessels of knowledge – and the tools of knowledge like writing and science (astronomy, planting calendars, medicine, e.g.), so a cadre of assistants in those affairs would have been necessary. Mecca and Jerusalem are probably the best examples of holy cities, but others dot the landscape of the world. Rome existed before the Catholic faith, but it assuredly grew and prospered as a result of becoming the headquarters of Christianity for hundreds of years.

Cities may have evolved as small trading posts where local farmers and wandering nomads exchanged agricultural and craft goods. The surplus wealth generated through trade required protection and fortifications, so cities with walls may have been built to protect marketplaces and vendors. Some trace the birth of London to an ancestral trading spot called Kingston upon the Thames, a market town founded by the Saxons southwest of London’s present core. The place-names of many ancient towns in England reveal their original function – Market Drayton, Market Harborough, Market Deeping, Market Weighton, Norton Chipping, Chipping Ongar, and Chipping Sodbury. “Chipping” is a derivation of a Saxon word meaning “to buy.”

Throughout history, cities, big and small, have served market functions for those who live in adjacent hinterlands. Some market cities grow much more substantial than others because they are more centrally located. Central location relative to other competing marketplaces is another example of an ideal situation factor. Large cities have excellent site and situation characteristics. Every major US city, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Houston is located ideally for commerce and industry.

Some cities grow large because of specific site location advantages that favor trade or industry. All cities compete against one another to attract industry, but only those with quality site factors, like excellent port facilities and varied transportation options, grow large. Cities ideally located between significant markets for exports and imports have unique situation factor advantages versus other competing cities and will grow most.

Most large cities in the United States emerged where two or more modes of transportation intersect, forming what geographers call a break of bulk point. Breaking bulk happens whenever cargo is unloaded from a ship, truck, barge, or train. Until the 1970s, unloading (and reloading) freight required a vast number of laborers, and therefore any city that had a busy dock or port or station attracted workers. Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and Houston all grew very large because multiple transportation modes well served each.

New York City is the largest city in the United States, but it was not always that way. It outgrew competitors on the East Coast because of the specific advantages of transportation. Early on, Boston and Philadelphia were more significant, but New York City’s break of bulk advantages helped it immensely. Key among the factors helping New York out-compete rivals were its additional transportation options. First, it had a port on the Atlantic Ocean. Second, it had the navigable Hudson River, which served inland cities far from the ocean via riverboat and barge. Then, in 1825, the Erie Canal opened, effectively connecting the Atlantic Ocean with Lake Erie and all the markets of the Great Lakes Region via New York City. The canal was a massive advantage. With the opening of the canal, agricultural products coming from the Midwest could be transported across the Great Lakes and Erie Canal to New York City, where it was off-loaded from riverboats to ocean-going ships headed for Europe. Simultaneously, goods coming from Europe and destined for any location in the Midwest had to be unloaded at the port in New York City. The additional jobs working at docks and warehouses attracted other industries, and a snowball effect was achieved by the mid- 1850s that made New York City, for a time, the largest city in the world.

With all of this in mind, it is possible to develop a view of cities that is based on innovations and diffusions of technology. This is what was done by the geography of John R. Borchert during the 1960s. Borchert developed a view of the urbanization of the United States that is based on the epochs of technology. As the components of technology wax and wane, the urban landscape undergoes dramatic changes.

  • Stage 1: Sail-Wagon Epoch (1790–1830); the only means of international trade was sailing ships. Once goods were on land, they were hauled by wagon to their final destination.
  • Stage 2: Iron Horse Epoch (1830–70); characterized by the impact of steam engine technology, and development of steamboats and regional railroad networks.
  • Stage 3: Steel Rail Epoch (1870–1920); dominated by the development of long-haul railroads and a national railroad network.
  • Stage 4: Auto-Air-Amenity Epoch (1920–70); with growth in the gasoline combustion engine.
  • Stage 5: Satellite-Electronic-Jet Propulsion (1970–?), also called the High-Technology Epoch. This stage has continued to the present day as both transportation and technology improves.

Rivers have also played an essential role in the establishment of cities. Most cities are established along rivers of some sort. Rivers provide fresh water for drinking (and irrigation), but the effect navigable rivers have had on urban growth is hard to overstate. Before the age of trains and highways, rivers were by far the most efficient way to transport heavy cargo, especially over long distances. Interestingly, the interruptions to river navigation were most often responsible for creating conditions that attracted settlement and favored growth. Waterfalls were for many years a complete nuisance to river traffic, but they also are responsible for several cities. Not only do waterfalls provide a source of power for industry (see fall line cities below), but they also create a special kind of break of a bulk point called a head of navigation. At a waterfall, people had to stop, get out of their boats and carry the boat, and their cargo. Louisville, Kentucky, is an excellent example of a head of the navigation site because it arose next to the Falls of Ohio. In this place, the Ohio River tumbled over a waterfall forcing all boats to stop and breakbulk, again providing jobs at the boat dock, in warehouses, and encouraging manufacturing.

Those process of carrying boats and/cargo between two navigable stretches of the river (or to another river) is called Portage. Towns evolve where critical portage zones arose. Indiana, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Maine all have municipalities named “Portage,” but the essential portage zone in the United States appeared in Chicago, Illinois. Just southwest of what is now downtown Chicago, near Midway Airport was a portage zone where the Chicago River, which flows north into the Lake Michigan nearly intersected the Des Plaines River, which flows southward into the Mississippi River system. Around 1850, the people of Chicago built a canal connecting America’s two most significant navigable water systems, and by doing so, gave Chicago an enormous transportation advantage over other locations in the Midwest.

Business people value break of bulk because they offer opportunities for warehousing and manufacturing. Those industries not only attract migrants seeking work, but also additional transportation modes, which in turn create even more jobs. For example, the completion of the Illinois-Michigan canal in 1848 made Chicago an especially attractive terminus for multiple railroad companies that sprang up in the 1850s. It took Chicago just over 30 years to grow from the 100th most populous American city to the number two spot. Later still, interstate highways and airline routes also converged in Chicago.

Rivers also create chokepoints for the movement of goods and people traveling by land. Rivers are often difficult to cross in many locations because the water either the water is too deep or the river too wide. In such places, before bridges were standard, those trying to cross a river would seek out a ford, which is a shallow place to cross the river without a boat. City names like Stratford, Oxford, and Frankfurt all contain clues that they were once good places to cross a river. These fording sites often were simultaneously ideal locations for bridge construction because engineering a bridge across a shallow part of a wide river is simpler at a ford. Bridges funnel overland traffic to specific points, and provide another break of bulk opportunity, especially if the river is navigable.

Sometimes two rivers merge into a single, more massive river at a confluence site, creating yet another unique opportunity to gain an advantage over competitors. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, lies at America’s best-known confluence site. The steel industry thrived in Pittsburgh for over 100 years thanks in large part to the industrial advantages created by its location.

Los Angeles (L.A.) is the great metropolis on the west coast of the United States. The Spanish chose a location near what is now downtown L.A. for a pueblo (town) because they found fertile soil and a consistent source of water there alongside a large population of Indians that they hoped would form the core of a vibrant Spanish colony. As the years went by, Los Angeles’ only significant advantage over potential competitors in Southern California was its river. Spanish water law declared all the water in the L.A. River belonged to the people of Los Angeles. This law prevented other towns from forming either upstream or downstream from the original pueblo. People living along the L.A. River and hoping to use its precious waters were forced by Los Angelenos to become part of L.A.

Los Angeles remained a small town until the Santa Fe/Southern Pacific Railroad opened a second transcontinental railroad terminus in L.A. in 1881. Not long afterward, the local port facilities at San Pedro were upgraded, and L.A. began competing with San Francisco for business. With the invention of refrigerated boxcars and the discovery of oil in the region, L.A. proliferated. Good weather helped encourage migrants to journey westward to take jobs in the petroleum and citrus industries. The same great weather helped attract the movie and aeronautical industries decades later. Water resources, though, have remained a problem. The Los Angeles River was never sufficient to serve the needs of a large city, so a series of canals and pipelines have been constructed over the years to bring fresh water from vast distances into the Los Angeles region.

Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary cities are common in many large cities across the United States. They are jurisdictions that have local policies that prevent or limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement officials. Based on the Center for Immigration Studies, there were roughly 300 sanctuary cities across the nation. The National Conference of State Legislatures currently states that there are 12 states and the District of Columbia that have laws allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

There is not a singular definition of what a sanctuary city is. They are also very controversial from a liberal and conservative perspective. Those who want sanctuary cities believe undocumented immigrants offer a workforce to fill employment gaps that major cities need. Others believe the immigration system is broken, so sanctuary cities provide places of refuge for law-abiding undocumented immigrants. Whereas, those against sanctuary cities think they’re locations violating federal laws by intentionally employing undocumented immigrants.

Because of the separation of power between local, state, and federal governments, as noted in the 10th Amendment, neither Congress nor the President can stop sanctuary cities. But Congress and the President can block federal funding to these cities.

Understanding Distribution and City Size

Under very unusual circumstances, one might find that among a group of cities, no single city has unique site location advantages over others. This might happen out on a vast plain, like in Kansas, where there are no navigable rivers, waterfalls, or ports. In instances like this, situation advantages come to the fore, and a regular, geometric pattern of cities may emerge. This process was more pronounced when transportation was primitive, and the friction of distance was considerable, but it can still be witnessed by picking up a map of almost any flat region of the earth. Geographer Walter Christaller noticed the pattern and developed the Central Place Theory to explain the pattern and the logic driving it forward.

According to Christaller, if a group of people (like farmers) diffuse evenly across a plain (as they were when Kansas opened for homesteaders), a predictable hierarchy of villages, towns, and cities will emerge. The driving force behind this pattern is the basic need everyone has to go shopping for goods and services. Naturally, people prefer to travel less to acquire what they need. The maximum distance people will travel for a good or service is called the range of that good or service. Goods like a hammer have a short-range because people will not travel far to buy a hammer. A tractor, because it is an expensive item, has a much higher range. The cost of getting to a tractor dealership is small about the value of the tractor itself, so farmers will travel long distances to buy the one they want. Hospital services have even higher ranges. People might travel to the moon if a cure for a deadly disease was available there.

Each merchant and service provider also requires a minimum number of regular customers to stay in business. Christaller called this number the threshold population. A major-league sports franchise has a threshold population of probably around a million people, most of whom must live in that team’s range. There are only 30 Major League Baseball teams in the United States, and the team with the smallest market (Milwaukee Brewers) has a threshold population of 2 million people. An ordinary Wal-Mart store probably has a threshold of about 20,000 people, so they are far more numerous. Starbuck’s Coffee shops probably have a threshold of about 5,000 people or less, because there are so many locations.

When customers and merchants living and working on featureless plain interact over time, some villages will attract more merchants (and customers) and grow into towns or even cities. Some communities will not be able to attract or retain merchants, and they will not grow. Competition between towns on this plain prevents nearby locations from increasing simultaneously. As a result, centrally located villages tend to grow into towns at the expense of their neighbors. A network of centrally located towns will emerge, and among these towns, only a few will grow into cities. One very centrally located city may evolve into a much larger city.

The largest cities will have businesses and functions that require significant thresholds (like major league sports teams or highly specialized boutiques). People from villages and small towns can access only the most essential goods and services (like gas stations or convenience stores) and are forced to travel to larger cities to buy higher-order products and services. Those goods and services not available to the nearest large city (regional service center) require customers to travel further. Some goods and services are only available at the top of the urban hierarchy, the mega-cities. In the United States, a handful of cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas) may offer exceptionally high order goods, unavailable in other large cities like Cleveland, Seattle, or Atlanta.

Geographer Mark Jefferson developed the law of the primate city to explain the phenomenon of huge cities that capture such a large proportion of a country’s population as well as its economic activity. These primate cities are often, but not always, the capital cities of a country. An excellent example of a primate city is Paris, which truly represents and serves as the focus of France. They dominate the country in influence and are the national focal point. Their sheer size and activity become a strong pull factor, bringing additional residents to the city and causing the primate city to grow even larger and more disproportional to smaller cities in the country. However, not every country has a primate city.

Some scholars define a primate city as one that is larger than the combined populations of the second and third-ranked cities in a country. This definition does not represent real primacy; however, as the size of the first ranked city is not disproportionate to the second.

The law can be applied to smaller regions, as well. For example, California’s primate city is Los Angeles, with a metropolitan area population of 16 million, which is more than double the San Francisco metro area of 7 million. Even counties can be examined about the Law of the Primate City.

Examples of Countries with Primate Cities

  • Paris (9.6 million) is the focus of France, while Marseilles has a population of 1.3 million.
  • Similarly, the United Kingdom has London as its primate city (7 million), while the second-largest city, Birmingham, is home to a mere one million people.
  • Mexico City, Mexico (8.6 million) outshines Guadalajara (1.6 million).
  • A considerable dichotomy exists between Bangkok (7.5 million) and Thailand’s second city, Nonthaburi (481,000).

Examples of Countries that Lack Primate Cities

  • India’s most populous city is Mumbai (formerly Bombay) with 16 million; second is Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) with more than 13 million, and third is less than 13 million.
  • China, Canada, Australia, and Brazil are additional examples of non-primate- city countries.
  • Utilizing the metropolitan area population of urban areas in the United States, we find that the U.S. lacks an actual primate city. With the New York City metropolitan area population at approximately 21 million, second-ranked Los Angeles at 16 million, and even third-ranked Chicago at 9 million, America lacks a primate city.

In 1949, George Zipf devised his theory of rank-size rule to explain the size cities in a country. He explained that the second and subsequently, smaller cities should represent a proportion of the largest city. For example, if the largest city in a country contained one million citizens, Zipf stated that the second city would contain one-half as many as the first, or 500,000. The third would contain one-third or 333,333, the fourth would be home to one-quarter or 250,000, and so on, with the rank of the city representing the denominator in the fraction.

While some countries’ urban hierarchy somewhat fits into Zipf’s scheme, later geographers argued that his model should be seen as a probability model and that deviations are to be expected.

Understanding Internal City Structure and Urban Development

Most urban centers begin in the downtown region called the central business district (CBD). The CBD tends to be the node or of transportation networks along with commercial property, banking, journalism, and judicial departments like City Hall, courts, and libraries. Because of high competition and limited space, property values for commercial and private ownership tend to be at a premium. CBDs also tend to use land above and below ground in the form of subways, underground malls, and high- rises. Sports facilities and convention centers also tend to be dominating forces in CBDs.

Urban planning is a sub-field of geography and until recently was part of geography departments in academia. An urban planner is someone trained in multiple theories of urban development along with developing ways to minimize traffic, decrease environmental pollution, and build sustainable cities. Urban planners, sociologists, along with geographers, have come up with three models to demonstrate and explain how cities grow.

The first model is called the concentric zone model, which states that cities can develop in five concentric rings. The inner zone of the cities tends to be the CBD, followed by a second ring that tends to the zone of transition between the first and third rings. In this transition zone, the land tends to be used by industry or low-quality housing. The third ring is called the zone of independent workers and tends to be occupied by working-class households. The fourth ring is called the zone of better residences and is dominated by middle-class families. Finally, ring five is called the commuter’s zone, where most people living there have to commute to work every day.

The second model for city development and growth is called the sector model. This model states that cities tend to grow in sectors rather than concentric rings. The idea behind this model is that “like groups” tend to grow in clusters and expand as a cluster. The center of this model is still the CBD. The next sector is called the transportation and industry sector. The third sector is called the low-class residential sector, where lower-income households tend to group. The fourth sector is called the middle-class sector, and the fifth is the high-class sector.

The third and final urban design is called the multiple nuclei model. In this model, the city is more complex and has more than one CBD. A node could exist for the downtown region, another where a university is situated, and maybe another where an international airport is located. Some clustering does exist in this model because some sectors tend to stay away from other sectors. For example, the industry does not tend to develop next to high-income housing.

The multiple nuclei model also features zones common to the other models. Industrial districts in these new cities, unfettered by the need to access rail or water corridors, rely instead on truck freight to receive supplies and to ship products, allowing them to occur anywhere zoning laws permitted. In western cities, zoning laws are often far less rigid than in the East, so the pattern of industrialization in these cities is sometimes random. Residential neighborhoods of varying status also emerged in a nearly random fashion as well, creating “pockets” of housing for both the rich and poor, alongside large zones of lower-middle-class housing. The reasons for neighborhoods to develop where they do are similar as they are in the sector model. Amenities may attract wealthier people, transport advantages attract industry and commerce, and disamenity zones are all that poor folks can afford. There is a sort of randomness to multiple nuclei cities, making the landscape less legible for those not familiar with the city, unlike concentric ring cities that are easy to read by outsiders who have been to other similar cities.

Another model is referred to as “Keno Capitalism.” In this model, based in Los Angeles, different districts are laid out in a mostly random grid, similar to a board used in the gambling game keno. The premise of this model is that the internet and modern transportation systems have made location and distance mostly irrelevant to the location of different sorts of activities within a city.

Geographers Ernest Griffin and Larry Ford recognized that the popular urban models did not fit well in many cities in the developing world. In response, they created one of the more compelling descriptions of cities formerly colonized by Spain – the Latin American Model. The Spanish designed Latin American cities according to rules contained in the Spanish Empire’s Law of the Indies. According to these rules, each significant city was to have at its center a large plaza or town typical for ceremonial purposes. A grand boulevard along which housing for the city’s elite was built stretched away from the central plaza and served as both a parade route and an opulent promenade. For several blocks outward from this elite spine was built the housing for the wealthy and powerful.

The rest of the city was initially left for the poor because there was almost no middle class. The poorly built houses close the central plaza where jobs and conveniences existed. Over time, the houses built by the poor, perhaps little more than shacks, were improved and enlarged. Ford and Griffin called this process in situ accretion. As the city’s population grew, young families and in-migrants built still more shacks, adding rings of housing that is always being upgraded. At the edges of the city are always the newest residents, often squatting on land they do not own.

Sociologists, geographers, and urban planners know that no city exactly follows one of the urban models of growth. However, the models help us understand the broader reason why people live where they do. Higher-income households tend to live away from lower-income households. Renters and house owners also tend to segregate from each other. Renters tend to live closer to the CBD, whereas homeowners tend to live in the outer regions of the city. It should be noted that the three models were developed shortly after World War II and based on U.S. cities; many critics now state that they do not truly represent modern cities.

7.2 Megacities and Urban Sprawl


A megacity is pegged as any city with more than 10 million residents. Another term often used to describe this is conurbation, a somewhat more comprehensive label that incorporates agglomeration areas such as the Rhine-Ruhr region in Germany’s west, which has 11.9 million inhabitants.

Of the 30 biggest megacities worldwide, 20 of them are in Asia and South America alone, including Baghdad, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Dhaka, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Kolkata, Manila, Mexico City, Mumbai, Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, Rip de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Teheran, and Tokyo-Yokohama. European megacities include London and Paris, and the UN estimates that the number of megacities worldwide will only increase.

The explosive growth of these and other cities is a rather new phenomenon, a result of industrialization. The megacities of the world differ not only according to whether they lie in the southern or northern hemisphere, but also by country, climatic, political, economic, and social conditions. Megacities can be productive, poor, organized, or chaotic. Paris and London are megacities, but it is difficult to compare them demographically or economically with Jakarta or Lagos. Vibrant megacities tend to stretch out further than their poorer counterparts: Los Angeles’ settlement area is four times as big as Mumbai’s despite its population being relatively smaller. Wealthy city inhabitants have a much higher rate of land consumption for apartments, transport, business, and industry. The situation is similar in terms of water and energy consumption, which is much higher in affluent cities. Cairo and Dhaka are without doubt ‘monster cities’ in terms of their population size, spatial, and urban planning. However, they are also “resourceful cities,” home to millions of people with few resources.

The high population levels in megacities and mega-urban spaces are leading to a host of problems, such as guaranteeing all residents a supply of essential foods, drinking water, and electricity. Related to this are concerns about sanitation and disposal of sewage and waste. There is not enough living space for incoming residents, leading to an increase in informal settlements and slums. Many urban residents get around via bus, truck, or motorized bicycles, leading to chaos on the streets and CO2 emissions leaking into the air.

The faster a city develops, the more critical these issues become. Due to their rapid growth, megacities in developing countries and the southern hemisphere have to battle in order to provide for their inhabitants. Between 1950 and 2000, cities in the north have grown an average of 2.4 times. In the south, they have grown more than 7-fold over the same period. Lack of financial resources and sparse coordination between stakeholders at different levels intensify the problems. Megacities usually do not represent one political-administrative unit, instead of dividing the city into parts such as with Mexico City, which is made up of one primary core district (Distrito Federal) and more than 20 outlying municipalities, where differing planning, construction, tax, and environmental laws are carried out than in the core district.

Two critical causes behind city growth are high rates of immigration as well as growing birth numbers. People move to the city with the hope of a more prosperous life and leave the country in search of brighter prospects. Without careful planning and infrastructure in place, this road can often lead to another poverty trap. As cities grow, so too do the unplanned and underserved areas, the so-called slums. In some regions of the world, more than 50 percent of urban populations live in slums. In parts of Africa south of the Sahara, that number jumps to around 70 percent. In 2007, a reported one billion people lived in slums, and by 2020, that figure could grow to 1.4 billion, according to the UN.

Gated communities are also on the rise. These are fenced and well-monitored communities in which affluent members live, further driving the trend towards separation among urban populations.

However, it is not just living spaces splitting the cities, globally; there is a significant push towards big new building projects like über, modern banks, and business districts, which stand in stark contrast to informal areas for the poor. These central business districts (CBD) are often siloed off from the central part of the city and migrate, along with the gated communities, towards the outskirts of town, as is the case in Pudong, Shanghai, and Beijing.

For the most part, urban planning is based on the needs of the consumer and culture-oriented upper classes and economic growth sectors, with the result being that the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. Such fragmented cities are a fragile entity in which conflicts are inevitable.

Because most people on the planet are city-dwellers, questions are starting to be asked about how to develop and design urbanization and urban migration in a sustainable way. Urban residents, the world over, require good air to breathe, clean drinking water, access to proper healthcare, sanitary facilities, and reliable energy supply.

The current situation in cities in developing countries can be precarious: the air is thick enough to touch; sewage treatment plants, if any, are overloaded, and industrial factories secrete virtually unregulated highly toxic waste and wastewater. Also, climate change will likely hit more impoverished cities harder. However, cities in the developed countries have to deal with environmental challenges in the areas of transport, energy and waste and wastewater.

On an international level, there are countless efforts currently being undertaken to support sustainable urban development. Several large UN projects, such as the UN-HABITAT Program and the Sustainable Urban Development Network, are endeavoring to improve and strengthen governmental and planning abilities. One of the goals of the UMP is also to implement the Millennium Development Goals at the city level.

Many urban problems can be explained not only at the city level, but must be regarded as results of political disorder and economic instability on a global and national level – and that this is where the solutions lie!

Challenges to Urban Growth

One of the major problems that cities face is deteriorating areas, high crime, homelessness, and poverty. As noted in the urban models, many lower-income people live near the city, but lack the job skills to compete for employment within the city. This often results in a variety of social and economic problems. Census data shows that 80 percent of children living in inner cities only have one parent. Because childcare services are limited in the city, single parents struggle to meet the demands of childcare and employment. Problems associated with lower-income areas are often violent crime (assault, murder, rape), prostitution, drug distribution, and abuse, homelessness, and food deserts.

Slums and Shanty Towns

The United Nations defines slums as overcrowded, inadequate, informal forms of housing that lack reasonable access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities and deprive residents of power of the land. Above all, slums are an architectural and spatial expression of lack of housing and growing urban poverty. The well-known symbols of this are makeshift huts, such as the favelas in Brazil, but also desolate and overcrowded apartment buildings in major Chinese cities where the growing army of migrant workers and workers find makeshift accommodation.

Slums are densely populated urban informal settlements consisting of poor, inadequate living standards. Most slums lack proper sanitation services, access to clean drinking water, law enforcement, or other necessities of living in an urban area.

A shantytown, also known as a squatter, is a slum settlement that usually consists of building material made from plywood sheets of plastic, cardboard boxes, and other cheap material. They are typically found on the periphery of cities or near rivers, lagoons, or city trash dumps.

The reasons so many of these cities are poor include underemployment and insufficient pay as well as low productivity within the informal sector. Around half the people in megacities that lie in the southern hemisphere are employed in the informal sector, many of whom are coerced into accepting any employment. They sell various products – cigarettes, drinks, food, bits, and pieces – simple services like shoe cleaning and letter writing as well as smuggling goods or ending up in prostitution. Exploitation is, at times, rife in slum settings due to insecure residences, lack of legal protection, poor sanitation, and unstable acquisition conditions.

When residents in a neighborhood lack the money, political, organizational skills, or the motivation to protect themselves from disamenities, defined as drawbacks or disadvantages, especially about location, significant neighborhood degradation is possible. Poor people of all ethnicities can rarely afford to live in neighborhoods that have outstanding schools, parks, and air quality. So they are often able to afford to live only in the most dangerous, toxic, degraded neighborhoods. Racism is undoubtedly a common variable in the poverty equation, but it is rarely the only one.

Gentrification and Redlining

As a way for city officials to deal with inner-city problems, there has been a push recently to renovate cities, a process called gentrification. Middle-class families are drawn to city life because housing is cheaper, yet can be fixed up and improved, whereas suburban housing prices continue to rise. Some cities also offer tax breaks and affordable loans to families who move into the city to help pay for a renovation. Also, city houses tend to have more cultural style and design compared to quickly made suburban homes. Transportation tends to be cheaper and more convenient, so that commuters do not spend hours a day traveling to work. Couples without children are drawn to city living because of the social aspects of theaters, clubs, restaurants, bars, and recreational facilities.

The logic behind gentrification is that it not only reduces crime and homelessness; it also brings tax revenue to cities to improve the city’s infrastructure. However, there has also been a backlash against gentrification because some view it as a tax break for the middle and upper class rather than spending much-needed money on social programs for low-income families. It could also be argued that improving lower-class households would also increase tax revenue because funding could go toward job skill training, childcare services, and reducing drug use and crime.

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA), created in 1934 as one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal projects, was tasked with ensuring that housing was built safely while encouraging banks to make loans to people seeking to buy new homes or repair older homes, so they were suitable to sell. The FHA was part of a grand scheme to stimulate the housing sector of the economy during the Great Depression, but also to provide government help and oversight to the home loan industry. Since many of those who qualified for loans were white and not in poverty, the government helped increase residential segregation by encouraging white flight from the cities. Meanwhile, minorities faced still with racist deed restrictions in many new suburbs, found themselves stuck in the city, where the FHA’s mortgage assistance programs were far less helpful.

Some have argued that FHA policies encouraged a series of discriminatory mortgage and insurance practices, known as redlining. During the Depression, the federal government refinanced more than a million mortgages to stem the tide of foreclosures, but not everyone was eligible for this help. Neighborhoods with poor terrain, old buildings, or those threatened by “foreign-born, negro or lower grade population” were judged to be too risky for government help. They appeared on government maps of cities in red. After the war, banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions also mapped out where not to do business.

Residents in neighborhoods with a “red line” drawn around them would not be able to get loans to buy, repair, or improve housing. Some could not get insurance on what they owned. If they could, the terms of the loan or the insurance rates were higher than those outside the zone; a practice called reverse redlining. It appears that the main criteria for inclusion in a redlined neighborhood were the percentage of minorities. Therefore, most of the people who suffered from the ill-effects of redlining were minorities. African-Americans were harmed most often. Individuals with good credit histories and a middle-class income could find it impossible to buy homes in specific neighborhoods. Redlining was a death sentence to neighborhoods.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act tried to outlaw redlining (and other forms of housing discrimination), but new laws were needed to bolster the language in the 1970s. However, by that time, long-term damage was evident in inner cities across the United States. Although it is illegal to discriminate against minorities (or anyone really) for non-economic characteristics, there is ample evidence to suggest it still occurs.


Homelessness is another primary concern for citizens of large cities. More than one half- million people are believed to live on the streets or in shelters. In 2013, about one- third of the entire homeless population were living as a member of a family unit. One-fourth of homeless people were children. In Los Angeles County, at the same time, there were somewhere around 40,000 homeless people living either in shelters and on the street. Another 20,000 persons were counted as near homeless or precariously housed, typically living with friends or acquaintances in short-term arrangements.

There are multiple reasons why people become homeless. The Los Angeles Homeless Authority estimates that about one-third of the homeless have substance abuse problems, and another third are mentally ill. Nearly a quarter have a physical disability. A disturbing number are veterans of the armed forces or victims of domestic abuse. Economic conditions locally and nationally also have a significant impact on the overall number of homeless people in a particular year, not only because during recessions, people lose their jobs and homes, but because the stresses of poverty can worsen mental illness.

The government plays a significant role in the pattern and intensity of homelessness. Ronald Reagan is the politician most associated with the homeless crisis both nationally and in California. When Reagan became governor of California in the late 1960s, the deinstitutionalization of people with a mental health condition was already a state policy. Under his administration, state-run facilities for the care of mentally ill persons were closed and replaced by the for-profit board and care homes. The idea was that people should not be locked up by the state solely for being mentally ill and that government-run facilities could not match the quality and cost-efficiency of privately run boarding homes. Many private facilities, though, were severely run, profit-driven, located in poor neighborhoods, and had little professional staff. Patients could, and did, leave these facilities in large numbers, frequently becoming homeless or incarcerated. Other states followed California’s example. By the late 1970s, the federal government passed some legislation to address the growing crisis, but sweeping changes in governmental policy at the federal level during the Regan presidency shelved efforts started by the Carter administration. Drastic cuts to social programs during the 1980s ensured an explosion of mental illness related homelessness. Most funding has never been restored, though the Obama administration has aggressively pursued policies aimed at housing homeless veterans.

Though homeless people come from many types of neighborhoods, facilities for serving homeless populations are not well distributed throughout the urban regions. Many cities have a region known as Skid Row, a neighborhood unofficially reserved for the destitute. The term originated as a reference to Seattle’s lumber yard areas where workers used skids (wooden planks) to help them move logs to mills. Today, many of the shelters and services for the homeless are found in and around skid row.

Food Deserts

A food desert is an area, especially one with low-income residents, that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. In contrast, an area with supermarkets or vegetable shops is termed a food oasis. The term food desert considers the type and quality of food available to the population, in addition to the number, nature, and size of accessible food stores. Food deserts are characterized by a lack of supermarkets, which decreases residents’ access to fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.

In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that 23.5 percent of Americans live in a food desert, meaning that they live more than one mile from a supermarket in urban or suburban areas, and more than 10 miles from a supermarket in rural areas. Food deserts lack whole food providers who supply fresh protein sources along with whole food such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and instead provide processed and sugar- and fat-laden foods in convenience stores.

As noted in the NPR video, a food desert more often occurs in low-income communities, where people do not have access to a vehicle, and must travel over half a mile to reach a grocery store. For those who live in food deserts, access to food can only be found at fast food places or small convenience stores. Those in food deserts seeking healthy food options may have to travel several miles, often by mass transit, to reach grocery stores.

The video by Penn State University, called the Geospatial Revolution, highlights how Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are using geospatial technology such as geographic information systems to help fund and locate supermarkets in underserved communities.

In Mari Gallagher’s Ted Talk, she focuses on “food desert  awareness and solutions,” provides a critical examination of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and emphasizes the need for improving public health through “Truth in Data for the Common Good.” Mari is the author of Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago, a study that popularized the term “food desert” across the country.

Ron Finley returns to reinforce the importance of community gardens as a way to combat food deserts, or what he calls, food prisons. He talks about how growing gardens empowers your life and local communities. The self-proclaimed Gangsta gardener says, “All of life starts from a garden. Planting your food equates to growing your life, and Ron encourages everyone to create their own opportunities.”

Urban and Suburban Sprawl

Not all of a city’s residents live within the urban cores. Over half of all people live in the suburbs rather than in the city or rural areas. There was a suburban sprawl model developed to explain U.S. development called the peripheral model. This model states that urban areas consist of a CBD followed by sizeable suburban areas of business and residential developments. The outer regions of the suburbs become transition zones of rural areas.

The attraction to suburbs is low crime rates, lack of social and economic problems, detached single-family housing, access to parks, and usually better schooling. These are universal generalizations and not necessarily true everywhere. Suburbs also tend to create economic and social segregation, where tax revenues and social resources provide better funding opportunities than in inner cities.

Of course, there is also a cost to suburban sprawling. Developers are always looking for cheaper land to build, which usually means developing rural areas and farmland rather than expanding next to existing suburbs. Air pollution and traffic congestion also become a problem as working households are required to travel farther to and from work. Suburbs tend to be less commuter-friendly to those who walk or bike because the model of development is based around vehicle transportation.

Water is another challenge to urban growth. It is an elemental part of the fabric of urban lives, providing sustenance and sanitation, commerce, and connectivity. Our fundamental needs for water have always determined the location, size, and form of our cities, just as water shapes the character and outlook of their citizens. Urban health is inextricably linked with water. From the first cities, planners have appreciated the potential linkages of water with health and the need for consistent water supplies. Indeed, the modern field of public health owes a substantial debt to the sanitary engineers who strove to provide potable water and safe disposal of human wastes in burgeoning cities of the Industrial Revolution.

Scientists and decision-makers have recently begun to appreciate that, as in the case of other urban systems, the linkages between water management, health, and sustainability are involved in ways that undermine the effectiveness of traditional approaches. Unprecedented urban populations and densities, urban inequities, and urban mobility pose new problems, and climate change adds a novel and uncharted dimension. This has, in some cases, led to worsening urban health, or increased risks. For instance, some water-associated diseases like dengue are on the rise globally, while others, like cholera, continue to pose serious threats elsewhere. Many regions face increased food and water scarcity, and many urban slums present conditions that challenge effective water management.

7.3 Cities as Cultural and Economic Centers

Cities as a Place

In one way, cities are vast, complex machines that produce goods and services, but that way of conceiving the city overlooks genuine emotional qualities that define almost any location. Most people would argue that cities have personalities, qualities that define them as a place. People who live in particular cities often develop a sort of tribal attitude toward their city. This attitude is reflected most visibly in the genuine, emotional attachment citizens have to their sports teams. It is not uncommon for citizens of a city to take great offense at derogatory remarks directed toward “their city,” especially if those remarks come from an outsider.

How we know what we know about cities is primarily bound up in the symbolism of cities provided us through countless media. Often people have enormous storehouses of knowledge about specific places (New York, Paris, Hollywood), even though they have never even visited. We also have powerful ideas about generic places, “small towns,” “the suburbs,” “the ghetto,” yet though we may not have visited these places either. This knowledge is imperfect and may very well be dangerously inaccurate to both those people who live in these places and us. We must recognize how our understanding of places has been constructed, and we must seek to understand what purposes these constructions serve.

Geographer Donald Meinig proposed that Americans have particularly strong ideas and emotions about three unique, but generic landscapes: The New England Village, Small Town America, and the California Suburb (Meinig’s Three Landscapes).

Meinig’s first symbolic landscape is the sleepy New England Village, with its steepled white church and cluster of tidy homes surrounded by hardwood forests is powerfully evocative of a lifestyle centered around family, hard work, prosperity, Christianity, and community. He called its rival from the American Midwest Main Street USA. This landscape is found in countless small towns, and symbolizes order, thrift, industry, capitalism, and practicality. It is less cohesive and less religious than the New England Village, and more focused on business and government. Finally, Meinig points to the California Suburb as the last of the significant urban landscapes deeply embedded in the national consciousness. Suburban California symbolizes the good-life: backyard cookouts with the family and neighbors, a prosperous, healthy lifestyle, centered on family leisure.

So powerful are these images that they often appear as settings for novels, movies, television shows as well as political or product advertising campaigns.

Cultural Reflections in Urban Landscapes

The built environment is a product of socio-economic, cultural, and political forces. Every urban system has its own ‘genetic code,’ expressed in architectural and spatial forms that reflect a community’s values and identity. Each community chooses specific physical characteristics, producing the unique character of its city. This ‘communal eye’ exemplifies the city’s architectural legacy and gives a sense of place.

In old Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, unique buildings decorated with geometric patterns, create a distinctive visual character unique to the city. Another example is Egypt’s Nubian village, where the building materials and colors are unique and reflect the vernacular architecture of the region.

However, current architectural practices, in almost every city in the world, do not respect the past identities and traditions of our cities. Most projects bear little or no relationship to the surrounding urban context, the city’s genetic code. Architects only follow international architectural movements such as “Modern architecture,” “Postmodernism,” “High-Technology,” and “Deconstructionism.” The result is a fragmented and discontinuous dialogue among buildings, destroying a city’s communal memory.

Street art and graffiti have been filling this gap, explaining the conflict between the traditional culture and contemporary sociopolitical issues of cities. Street artists are repurposing city walls to highlight heritage, history, and identity and, in some cases, to humanize this struggle. Each city has a unique wall art that has become part of its overall genetic code. Some of the art in Santiago, for example, highlights Chilean identity. Another example is how wall art was used during the Egyptian revolution to memorialize the events. In March 2012, young graffiti artists launched the “No Walls” movement when the Egyptian authorities constructed several concrete walls to block important street junctions to control peaceful demonstrations.

Many scholars of urban morphology suggest that the street network of any city is made up of a dual network −the foreground network, consisting of the main streets in the urban system, and background network, made up of alleyways or smaller streets. The foreground network, or the leading street network, usually have a universal form, a ‘deformed wheel’ structure composed of small semi-grid street pattern in the center (hub) linked with at least one ring road (rim) through diagonal streets (spokes). However, the form of the background network differs from a city to another; therefore, it is this network that gives a city its spatial identity.

Many cities such as London, Tokyo, and Cairo have a similar universal street pattern of a ‘deformed wheel’ in the foreground network despite having different background networks, possibly as a result of cultural differences or contributing to the creation of those cultural differences. In short, the background network reflects the unique structure of each city, and could be considered its genetic code.

Economic Development and City Infrastructure

The evidence of the definite link between urban areas and economic development is overwhelming. With just 54 percent of the world’s population, cities account for more than 80 percent of global GDP. In virtually all cases, the contribution of urban areas to national income is more significant than their share of the national population. For instance, Paris accounts for 16 percent of the population of France, but generates 27 percent of GDP.

Similarly, Kinshasa and metro Manila account for 13 percent and 12 percent of the population of their respective countries, but generate 85 percent and 47 percent of the income of the democratic republic of Congo and Philippines respectively. The ratio of the share of urban areas’ income to share of the population is more considerable for cities in developing countries vis-à-vis those of developed countries. This is an indication that the transformative force of urbanization is likely to be higher in developing countries, with possible implications for harnessing the positive nature of urbanization.

The higher productivity of urban areas stems from agglomeration economies, which are the benefits firms and businesses derive from locating near to their customers and suppliers to reduce transport and communication costs. They also include proximity to a vast labor pool, competitors within the same industry, and firms in other industries.

These economic gains from agglomeration can be summarized as three essential functions: matching, sharing, and learning. First, cities enable businesses to match their distinctive requirements for labor, premises, and suppliers better than smaller towns because a more extensive choice is available. Better matching means greater flexibility, higher productivity, and more vigorous growth. Second, cities give firms access to a bigger and improved range of shared services, infrastructure, and external connectivity to national and global customers because of the scale economies for providers. Third, firms benefit from the superior flows of information and ideas in cities, promoting more learning and innovation. Proximity facilitates the communication of complex ideas between firms, research centers, and investors. Proximity also enables formal and informal networks of experts to emerge, which promotes comparison, competition, and collaboration. It is not surprising, therefore, that large cities are the most likely places to spur the creation of young high growth firms, sometimes described as “gazelles.” It is cheaper and easier to provide infrastructure and public services in cities. The cost of delivering services such as water, housing, and education is 30-50 percent less expensive in concentrated population centers than in sparsely populated areas.

The benefits of agglomeration can be offset by rising congestion, pollution, pressure on natural resources, higher labor, and property costs. More significant policing costs occasioned higher levels of crime and insecurity, often in the form of negative externalities or agglomeration diseconomies. These inefficiencies grow with city size, especially if urbanization is not adequately managed, and if cities are deprived of essential public infrastructure. The immediate effect of dysfunctional systems, gridlock, and physical deterioration may be to deter private investment, reduce urban productivity, and hold back growth. Cities can become victims of their success, and the transformative force of urbanization can diminish.

The dramatic changes in the spatial form of cities, brought about by rapid urbanization over time, present significant challenges and opportunities. Whereas new spatial configurations play a crucial role in creating prosperity, there is an urgent demand for more integrated planning, robust financial planning, service delivery, and strategic policy decisions. These interventions are necessary if cities are to be sustainable, inclusive, and ensure a high quality of life for all. Urban areas worldwide continue to expand, giving rise to an increase in both vertical and horizontal dimensions.

With cities growing beyond their administrative and physical boundaries, conventional governing structures and institutions become outdated. This trend has led to expansion not just in terms of population settlement and spatial sprawl, but has altered the social and economic spheres of influence of urban residents. In other words, the functional areas of cities and the people that live and work within them are transcending physical boundaries.

Cities have extensive labor, real estate, industrial, agricultural, financial, and service markets that spread over the jurisdictional territories of several municipalities. In some cases, cities have spread across international boundaries plagued with fragmentation, congestion, degradation of environmental resources, and weak regulatory frameworks. City leaders struggle to address demands from citizens who live, work, and move across urban regions irrespective of municipal jurisdictional boundaries. The development of complex interconnected urban areas introduces the possibility of reinventing new mechanisms of governance.

A city’s physical form, its built environment characteristics, the extent and pattern of open spaces together with the relationship of its density to destinations and transportation corridors, all interact with natural and other urban features to constrain transport options, energy use, drainage, and future patterns of growth. It takes careful, proper coordination, location, and design (including mixed uses) to reap the benefits more compact urban patterns can bring to the environment (such as reduced harmful emissions) and quality of life.

Urban space can be a strategic entry point for driving sustainable development. However, this requires innovative and responsive urban planning and design, that utilizes density, minimizes transport needs and service delivery costs, optimizes land-use, enhances mobility and space for civic and economic activities, and provides areas for recreation, cultural, and social interaction to improve the quality of life. By adopting relevant laws and regulations, city planners are revisiting the compact and mixed land-use city, reasserting notions of urban planning that address the new challenges and realities of scale, with urban region-wide mobility and infrastructure demands.

The need to move from sectoral interventions to strategic urban planning and more comprehensive urban policy platforms is crucial in transforming city form. For example, transport planning was often isolated from land- use planning, and this sectoral divide has caused wasteful investment with long-term negative consequences for a range of issues, including residential development, commuting, and energy consumption. Transit and land- use integration is one of the most promising means of reversing the trend of automobile-dependent sprawl and placing cities on a sustainable pathway.

The more compact a city, the more productive and innovative it is, and the lower it is per capita resource use and emissions. City planners have recognized the need to advance higher density, mixed-use, inclusive, walkable, bikeable, and public transport-oriented cities. Accordingly, sustainable and energy-efficient cities, low carbon, with renewable energy at scale, are re-informing decision making on the built environment.

Despite shifts in planning thought, whereby compact cities and densification strategies have entered mainstream urban planning practice, the market has resisted such approaches, and consumer tastes have persisted for low-density residential land. Developers of suburbia and exurbia continue to subdivide the land and build housing, often creating single-purpose communities. The new urbanists have criticized the physical patterns of suburban development and car-dependent subdivisions that separate malls, workspaces, and residential uses by highways and arterial roads. City leaders and planning professionals have responded and greatly enhanced new community design standards. Smart growth is an approach to planning that focuses on rejuvenating inner-city areas and older suburbs, and remediating brownfields. Where new suburbs are developed, the goal is to design them to be town-centered, transit and pedestrian-oriented, less automobile-dependent, mixed-use housing, and commercial and retail uses that use cleaner energy and other green technologies.

The tension in planning practice needs to be better acknowledged and further discussed if sustainable cities are to be realized. The forces that continue to drive the physical form of many cities, despite the best intentions of planning, present challenges that need to be at the forefront of any discussion on the sustainable development goals of cities. Some pertinent issues, which suggest the need for rethinking past patterns of urbanization and addressing them include:

  • Competing jurisdictions between cities, towns and surrounding peri-urban areas whereby authorities compete with each other to attract suburban development
  • The actual costs to the economy and society of fragmented land use and car-dependent spatial development; and
  • How to come up with affordable alternatives to accommodate the additional 2.5 billion people that would reside in cities by 2050.

In reality, it is mainly these outer suburbs, edge cities, and outer city nodes in more significant city regions where new economic growth and jobs are being created, and where much of this new population will be accommodated. While densification strategies and more robust compact city planning in existing city spaces will help absorb a portion of this growth, the critical challenge facing planners is how to accommodate new growth beyond the existing core and suburbs. This will largely depend on local governments’ ability to overcome fragmentation in local political institutions, and a more coherent legislation and governance framework, which addresses urban complexities spread over different administrative boundaries.

7.4 Cities as Environmental and Sustainable Centers

Urban and Suburban Sprawl

Not all of a city’s residents live within the urban cores. Over half of all people live in the suburbs rather than in the city or rural areas. There was a suburban sprawl model developed to explain U.S. development called the peripheral model. This model states that urban areas consist of a CBD followed by sizeable suburban areas of business and residential developments. The outer regions of the suburbs become transition zones of rural areas.

The attraction to suburbs is low crime rates, lack of social and economic problems, detached single-family housing, access to parks, and usually better schooling. These are universal generalizations and not necessarily true everywhere. Suburbs also tend to create economic and social segregation, where tax revenues and social resources provide better funding opportunities than in inner cities.

Of course, there is also a cost to suburban sprawling. Developers are always looking for cheaper land to build, which usually means developing rural areas and farmland rather than expanding next to existing suburbs. Air pollution and traffic congestion also become a problem as working households are required to travel farther to and from work. Suburbs tend to be less commuter-friendly to those who walk or bike because the model of development is based around vehicle transportation.

Water is another challenge to urban growth. It is an elemental part of the fabric of urban lives, providing sustenance and sanitation, commerce, and connectivity. Our fundamental needs for water have always determined the location, size, and form of our cities, just as water shapes the character and outlook of their citizens. Urban health is inextricably linked with water. From the first cities, planners have appreciated the potential linkages of water with health and the need for consistent water supplies. Indeed, the modern field of public health owes a substantial debt to the sanitary engineers who strove to provide potable water and safe disposal of human wastes in burgeoning cities of the Industrial Revolution.

Scientists and decision-makers have recently begun to appreciate that, as in the case of other urban systems, the linkages between water management, health, and sustainability are involved in ways that undermine the effectiveness of traditional approaches. Unprecedented urban populations and densities, urban inequities, and urban mobility pose new problems, and climate change adds a novel and uncharted dimension. This has, in some cases, led to worsening urban health, or increased risks. For instance, some water-associated diseases like dengue are on the rise globally, while others, like cholera, continue to pose serious threats elsewhere. Many regions face increased food and water scarcity, and many urban slums present conditions that challenge effective water management.

Cities and Sustainability

While there are numerous definitions of sustainable development, many start with the definition provided in the 1987 Brundtland report: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The goals for sustainable cities are grounded on a similar understanding – urban development, which strives to meet the essential needs of all, without overstepping the limitations of the natural environment. A sustainable city has to achieve a dynamic balance among economic, environmental, and socio-cultural development goals, framed within a local governance system characterized by deep citizen involvement and inclusiveness.

A core component of sustainable cities is sustainable infrastructure – the interconnected physical and organizational structure, set of services and systems that support the daily functioning of a society and its economy. Sustainable infrastructure is that which is designed, developed, maintained, reused, and operated in a way that ensures minimal strain on resources, the environment, and the economy. It contributes to enhanced public health and welfare, social equity, and diversity. Investment in sustainable infrastructure is pivotal in planning for the sustainable development of cities. Despite the importance of urban infrastructure, there is a clear under-investment as characterized by the backlog and state of deficient infrastructure. Globally, $57 trillion is needed for infrastructure investment between 2013 and 2030 to support economic growth and urbanization. This is of particular concern about developing countries, where many large cities experience severe congestion, and to developing countries, where improved primary socioeconomic conditions have been long overdue.

As a factor of inclusion and integration, urban mobility has a specific transformative role. Urban mobility is a multidimensional concept, encapsulating the multitude of physical components about urban transport (air, road, and rail systems, waterways, light and heavy rail, cable cars), including the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of mobility. Sustainable urban mobility provides efficient access to goods, services, job markets, social connections, and activities while limiting both short and long-term adverse consequences on social, economic, and environmental services and systems. A sustainable mobility strategy serves to protect the health of users and the environment, while fostering and promoting the city’s economic prosperity.

City dwellers are negatively impacted by inadequate and inefficient public transit systems, low-density development, urban sprawl, and the growing distance between residents and their place of employment, markets, education, and health facilities. Although faced with enormous challenges, behavioral, technological, and political shifts, cities remain at the forefront of transformative changes to improve quality of life through investing in connected, sustainable urban mobility.

An evolving trend is a cultural shift away from auto-dependency. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo are examples of cities where the costs of car ownership and use have been set high, and planning strategies have emphasized development patterns oriented to transit, walking, and cycling. In Europe and the U.S., the popularity of the sharing economy has allowed people to move to more walkable, livable urban communities. Consequently, urban space is being reimagined, leading to denser and greener cities, enhanced flow of traffic, improved walkability, and increased use of public transit. This shift could catalyze reinvestment in public transport and a reduction in automobile subsidies, while also allowing for equitable access. New mobility services and products such as e-hailing, autonomous driving, in-vehicle connectivity, and car-sharing systems offer multimodal, demand transportation alternatives.

More compact, better-connected cities with low-carbon transport could save as much as $3 trillion in urban infrastructure spending over the next 15 years. This would simultaneously result in substantial annual returns due to energy savings, higher productivity, and reduced healthcare costs. The private sector and civil society can also help city leaders advance sustainable mobility, with improvements in telecommunications technology. For instance, the Paris-based company BlaBlaCar has developed an online platform that connects passengers with private drivers and allows them to book seats for long-distance journeys. Increased passenger numbers per car reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of life.

If the world is to achieve its sustainable development goals, and reach targets that range from eradicating poverty and social inequity, to combating climate change and ensuring a healthy and livable environment, global efforts in the transition to sustainable energy are pivotal. As cities represent more than 70 percent of global energy demand, they have been playing a central role in moving the sustainable energy agenda forward. The current global share of renewable energy supply is 11 percent. The diversity of renewable energy resources is vast, and research indicates a potential contribution of renewable energy reaching 60 percent of total world energy supply.

While many renewable energy technologies remain more costly than conventional sources and are often site-specific, investment in renewable cleaner energy can reduce health impacts from environmental pollution and climate change. Increasing renewable energy sources, maximizing conservation, and lessening dependence on non-renewable sources of energy, mainly those most damaging and contributing to global warming, are critical steps to sustainable cities.

Cities are harnessing local capabilities to develop green technologies and renewable energy sources that enhance their ability to withstand climate-related shocks as well as boosting local economies. Governments are investing in green technologies, presenting an excellent opportunity for cities to channel their innovation capabilities into a new sector of the economy. The economies of scale and concentration of enterprises and innovation in cities make it cheaper and easier to take actions to minimize both emissions and climate hazards.

The risks that cities are now facing as a result of climate change and natural disasters, the pressing short-falls in urban water, sanitation and waste management services, and the deteriorating quality of air and water, are being experienced in the context of their rapid growth. A growing international focus on resilience is a core agenda item for cities today. The increase in severe weather and natural disasters has highlighted the need for cities to respond better, mitigate, and adapt to such events. This includes being able to respond to such risks in ways that minimize the impact on the social, environmental, and economic infrastructure of the cities. Consequently, city leaders have been making significant transformative changes and investments in the resilience of their cities.

Any city’s resilience to external shock relies primarily on effective institutions, governance, urban planning, and infrastructure. In this respect, the U.N. Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) has set out several general practical recommendations for urban authorities.

A critical aspect of the creation of resilient cities in the construction of physical infrastructure, that can absorb the shocks and stresses created by extreme weather events. Climate change is putting pressure on infrastructure that is already overtaxed from deferred maintenance, population growth, and development. As municipalities plan, design, and implement sustainable infrastructure projects; they need to consider the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters on the city’s physical infrastructure to build resilience.

There is a growing consensus that good governance is crucial to developing, maintaining, and restoring sustainable and resilient services and social, institutional, and economic activity in cities. Many city governments are weakened due to limited power and responsibility for essential public services, including planning, housing, roads and transit, water, land-use, drainage, waste management, and building standards. City governments also often lack the power to raise revenues to finance infrastructure and build more sustainable and resilient cities. When governance capacity is weak and constrained, cities are limited in their abilities to take programmatic action on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The multiple forms of risk and vulnerability in cities call for more integrated approaches, combining established policies (urban governance, planning, and management) with additional policy leverage, powers, and responsibilities for local government.

Sustainable, resilient, and inclusive cities are often the outcome of good governance that encompasses effective leadership, land-use planning, jurisdictional coordination, inclusive citizen participation, and efficient financing. Strong, effective leadership is critical for overcoming fragmentation across departments, multiple levels of government, and investment sectors when building consensus and eliciting action on specific agendas. Land-use planning across these broad urban regions is another key criterion for effective governance. Territorial and spatial strategies are central in addressing climate change risks and building effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. Coordination across the metropolitan area is fundamental not only in areas such as land, transport, energy, emergency preparedness, and related fiscal and funding solutions, but in addressing issues of poverty and social exclusion through innovative mechanisms of inter-territorial solidarity.

Including stakeholders in the urban planning process is critical to creating livable, sustainable cities, where citizens are active players in determining their quality of life. Including stakeholders in the design of infrastructure, urban space, and services legitimize the urban planning process and allow cities to leverage their stakeholders’ expertise. Finance, however, can be a significant impediment to effective governance. Municipal governments around the world are increasingly looking for new and innovative ways to finance sustainable projects. Consequently, partnership with the private sector is increasing since the private sector has capital not available to the public sector.

Sustainable Development Moving Forward

On May 28th, 2013, students in Istanbul, Turkey, staged a sit-in protest against an urban development project to build a mall in the city’s most significant green space, Gezi Park. One hundred activists were met with police opposition on May 30th, when water cannons and tear gas were used to disperse the crowds who had gathered in front of the green space. Finally, the tents and belongings of the protestors were burned, and the park was barricaded.

Using the Internet, the activists reached out for help and organized a massive effort to retake control of the park. The protests soon poured into the street as others, emboldened by police actions, joined the students in the park and Taksim Square. As the crowds grew, the protests soon began focusing on issues beyond development and became a protest against the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, whom many feel stifle democracy and opposition in the country.

While the movement has mostly become an anti-government protest, calling for reforms and the resignation of the Prime Minister, its initial goal as a desire to preserve green space in the city, and subsequent evolution, highlights how the environmental movement and democracy are entwined. Further, the protestors made use of social media and technology to organize a large group of people in a short amount of time. This use of technology has become unprecedented in recent years as smartphones, and the Internet helped protests to grow instantly. As in other environmental demonstrations such as the WTO “Battle in Seattle” in 1999, the main organizers are young college-aged students, showing that the environment remains a central concern to today’s youth.

Opponents of globalization fear that uncontrolled economic growth, fueled by free trade, harms the environment by causing more pollution and exhaustion of natural resources. Many of now see environmental problems as being of international concern, not just national interest—such as protection of the oceans and the atmosphere from pollution. The environment is now considered the “common heritage of mankind,” and environmental problems are increasingly the subject of international efforts because of their cross-border effects and the impossibility that just one or anew nations can solve these problems on their own. Furthermore, they suspect that environmental protection laws are weakened under the guise of promoting free trade by corporations and governments unconcerned about the adverse environmental effects of commerce.

In contrast, many corporations, governments, and citizens in developing countries (and some in developed countries as well) are willing to accept a certain level of environmental damage in exchange for economic well-being. They fear that environmental protection laws are ways for developed countries to prevent their goods from competing fairly.

As a strategy, sustainable development recognizes that past policies sometimes achieved progress by means that could not be kept up over time. For example, in the 1990s, between 10,000 and 30,000 square kilometers a year of Brazilian rainforest were cleared, fueling rapid economic growth in farming and ranching operations. In the short term, the practice created jobs and increased food production, but environmental damage caused by the clearing made much of the newly cleared land unusable in the longer term; the net result in many cases was a negative economic outcome.

Environmental protection can entail a drag on economic growth in the short-term. Industries that have to adjust to environmental regulations face disruption and higher costs, harming their competitive position. The question is what to make of this. Some argue that it may be worth slower economic growth to protect the environment. Others say that the free market and technological advances are the best tools to solve environmental problems and lift people out of poverty, rather than greater regulation.

The link between the environment and economic development may be more complicated than that, however. In fact, in many ways, protecting the environment and promoting economic growth are complementary goals. Poverty in developing countries is a leading cause of environmental degradation. For instance, “slash-and-burn” land- clearing by subsistence farmers has been a significant cause of depletion of the Amazon rainforest. Boosting economic growth may then be a useful tool to promote the protection of the environment. This is the idea behind the sustainable development movement, which seeks to advance economic opportunities for poorer nations in environmentally friendly ways.

Sustainable consumption and production are about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to essential services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental, and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness, and reduce poverty.

Sustainable consumption and production aim at “doing more and better with less,” increasing net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole lifecycle, while increasing quality of life. It involves different stakeholders, including businesses, consumers, policymakers, researchers, scientists, retailers, media, and development cooperation agencies, among others.

It also requires a systemic approach and cooperation among actors operating in the supply chain, from producer to final consumer. It involves engaging consumers through awareness-raising and education on sustainable consumption and lifestyles, providing consumers with adequate information through standards and labels, and engaging in sustainable public procurement, among others.

  • Each year, an estimated one-third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tons worth around $1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices
  • If people worldwide switched to energy-efficient lightbulbs the world would save US$120 billion annually
  • Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles

Policymakers all over the world are facing similar challenges. While we certainly know that the climate will change, there is considerable uncertainty as to what the local or regional impacts will be and what will be the impacts on societies and economies. Coupled with this is often significant disagreement among policymakers about underlying assumptions and priorities for action.

Many decisions to be made today have long-term consequences and are sensitive to climate conditions – water, energy, agriculture, fisheries forests, and disaster risk management. We cannot afford to get it wrong.

However, sound decision making is possible if we use a different approach. Rather than making decisions that are optimized to a prediction of the future, decision-makers should seek to identify decisions that are sound no matter what the future brings. Such decisions are called “robust.”

For example, Metropolitan Lima already has significant water challenges: shortages and a rapidly growing population with 2 million underserved urban poor. Climate models suggest that precipitation could decrease by as much as 15 percent, or increase by as much as 23 percent. The World Bank is partnering with Lima to apply tested, state-of-the-art methodologies like Robust Decision Making to help Lima identify no-regret, robust investments. These include, for example, multi-year water storage systems to manage droughts and better management of demand for water. This can help increase Lima’s long-term water security, despite an increasingly unpredictable future.

With advances in transportation and information technology, even the most remote places on Earth are within reach of the traveler. Tourism is now the world’s largest industry, with nature tourism the fastest growing service sector. Tourism in a globalized world can also pose environmental challenges. Unsustainable tourism may cause overcrowding and pressure on local infrastructure and services, and fragile local ecosystems. Indiscriminate tourism development can encourage intensive or inappropriate land use and contribute to coastal zone degradation. Disposal of liquid and solid wastes generated by the tourism industry may also strain the capacity of local infrastructure to treat the additional wastes generated by tourism activities.

To mitigate these economic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts, the United Nations has recommended that governments rely on sustainable ecotourism, while taking into account local carrying capacity for tourism.

Ecotourism is environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past, and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socioeconomic involvement of local peoples. Ecotourism is distinguished by its emphasis on conservation, education, traveler responsibility, and active community participation. Specifically, ecotourism possesses the following characteristics:

  • Conscientious, low-impact visitor behavior
  • Sensitivity towards, and appreciation of, local cultures and biodiversity
  • Support for local conservation efforts
  • Sustainable benefits to local communities
  • Local participation in decision-making
  • Educational components for both the traveler and local communities

Ecotourism that establishes a suitable balance between the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, also plays a vital role in conserving biodiversity. It attempts to minimize its impact on the environment and local culture so that it will be available for future generations, while contributing to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems.

By doing so, sustainable tourism maximizes the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity conservation and, thus, to poverty reduction and the achievement of common goals towards sustainable development.

Sustainable tourism provides crucial economic incentives for habitat protection. Revenues from visitor spending are often channeled back into nature conservation or capacity building programs for local communities to manage protected areas.

Furthermore, ecotourism can be a crucial vehicle in raising awareness and fostering positive behavior change for biodiversity conservation among the millions of people traveling the globe every year.

Connected Cities

Over the last two decades, the transformative power of urbanization has, in part, been facilitated by the rapid deployment of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and by a revolution in city data to inform decision-making and propel a global movement to smart cities. This has been accompanied by deeper connectivity of cities at local and global levels.

Cities have to contend with a wide range of challenges, from crime prevention, to more efficient mobility, to creating healthier environments, to more energy-efficient city systems, to emergency preparedness, among others. To address these challenges, the Internet of things, or networked connections in cities and data, are deployed to improve service delivery and quality of life. The use of data allows cities to measure their performance and to re-inform investments in city infrastructure. Cities are increasingly relying on metrics and globally comparable city data to guide more effective and smarter city decision-making that build efficiencies in city budgets.

Central to the communications revolution is the deployment of ICT in cities. High- quality infrastructure, innovation, investment, well-connected firms, efficiencies in energy and budgets, are often cited as ICT-driven benefits to cities. However, the potential consequences of this deployment are yet not well understood. When ICT is deployed unevenly in cities, it can create a digital divide— which can exacerbate inequality, characterized by well-connected affluent neighborhoods and business districts coexisting with under-serviced and under-connected low- income neighborhoods. The wealthy tend to have greater access to these technologies, and ICT can often serve to extend their reach and control while curbing that of the more socioeconomically marginalized residents.

Over the past two decades, the growth and expansion of mobile networks have been extensive and overtaken most predictions, changing the course of development for the post-2015 era. According to the Eriksson mobility report, the total number of mobile subscriptions in the third quarter of 2015 was 7.3 billion, with 87 million new subscriptions. For the vast majority of low-income population in emerging countries, mobile telephony is likely to be the sole connectivity channel. Although an affordable and reliable internet is not yet a reality for the majority of people in the world, the technology has proliferated since inception, spurring enormous innovation, various network expansion, and increased user engagement in a virtuous circle of growth. The number of internet users stood at one billion in 2005 and two billion in 2010, reaching over three billion by 2015.

As a transformative force, the deployment of ICT in cities supports innovation and poverty eradication, by promoting efficiencies in urban infrastructure, leading to lower-cost city services. In some cases, urban economies can leapfrog stages of development by deploying new technologies in the initial construction of infrastructure. Cities like Hong Kong and Singapore are notable examples of economies that were able to make this leap by digitizing their infrastructure. Shows how the city of Kigali in Rwanda is providing internet connectivity to its residents via the public bus system. In 2010, Curitiba, Brazil, was the first city in the world to connect public buses to a 3g mobile-broadband network. Such innovation opened up new possibilities for traveler services that helped commuters plan their route and enabled them to purchase tickets wherever and whenever it is most convenient. Cities worldwide, such as Chicago, London, and Vancouver, are implementing digital inclusion programs to ensure that all citizens have the tools to thrive in an increasingly digitalized world. As cities depend increasingly on electronic information and technology for their functioning and service delivery, city leaders are proceeding with caution to avoid an unequal distribution of ICT and to examine ways to bridge the digital divide.

The ever-increasing application of data and the Internet of things is supporting a much more collaborative relationship between city governments, citizens, and businesses. This trend is driving the smart cities phenomenon worldwide. The definition of a smart city continues to evolve, but a consistent component is the application of ICT and the Internet of things to address urban challenges. Many conceptual frameworks of smart cities also consider sustainability, innovation, and governance as essential components in addition to the application of ITC. The International Telecommunication Union defines a smart, sustainable city as “an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations concerning economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects.”

A smart city can guide better decision-making concerning prosperity, sustainability, resilience, emergency management, or effective and equitable service delivery. The city of Rio de Janeiro collaborated with IBM, to create a municipal operations center that combines data and information from city and state agencies, and private utility and transportation companies to collaborate on logistics and management challenges. The city, faced with growing concerns in flooding and traffic gridlock, can now monitor data and provide citizens with relevant information via mobile phones and other warning systems.105 Barcelona is a leading smart city for its application of innovative solutions aimed at improving city services and the quality of life of its citizens. Barcelona’s smart city model aims “to use ICT to transform the business processes of public administration…to be more accessible, efficient, effective, and transparent.” Singapore has also been at the forefront of the smart city movement; its smart nation program seeks to harness ICT, networks, and data to support better living, create more opportunities, and to support stronger communities.107 Singapore was the first city in the world to introduce congestion pricing and, now, by using more advanced systems, can analyze traffic data in real-time to adjust prices. One hundred eight technology solutions and the effective use of data are providing city leadership with new tools and opportunities for effective change.

Estimates show that the global smart city market will grow by 14 percent annually, from the U.S. $506.8 billion in 2012 to the U.S. $1.3 trillion in 2019. Over the next two decades, city governments in the U.S. will invest approximately U.S. $41 trillion to upgrade their infrastructure and take advantage of the Internet of things. With China’s cities projected to grow by 350 million people over the next 20 years, investment in smart cities is expected to exceed the U.S. $159 billion in 2015 and the U.S. $320 billion by 2014. India announced plans to build 100 smart cities, in response to the country’s growing population and pressure on the urban infrastructure. To realize the potential of ICT towards sustainable development, an enabling environment has to be created, with participatory governance models, the modernized infrastructure, and technology (capacity building, ensuring inclusion, and bridging the digital divide.