The rapidly expanding urban areas of the developing world represents an urban planning and management challenge that requires both new analytical approaches and new sources of data and information. The Development Informatics research group focuses on the research and use of information for improved integrated infrastructure planning and management in urban areas.
Improved integrated infrastructure planning is of special importance, as it is viewed as one of the key enablers for dealing with patterns of continued urban fragmentation and inequalities in developing countries:
- Infrastructure networks are widely assumed to be the integrators of space. They bind cities, regions and nations info functioning geographical and political wholes;
- Compared to "point specific" urban elements, like shops, banks, education and housing, they are known to be of little interest to urban managers, because they don't really have a urban geography in the conventional sense;
- They are the "mediators" through which the process of transformation of nature into cities takes place;
- Infrastructure networks work to bring places, people, buildings and urban elements into a dynamic relationship and exchanges which would not otherwise be possible;
- Infrastructure networks provide the distribution grids and topological connections that link systems and practices of production with systems and practices of consumption.
The above is supported by a combination of skills and tools in the following areas:
- Rapid surveying techniques;
- Data integration and spatial analysis;
- Sensing and monitoring of key urban phenomena; (e.g. remote sensing);
- Agent-based modelling and simulation; and
- Urban sustainability assessment.