Image Processing Reference
In-Depth Information
chapter, improvements in the resolution of satellite images have not been matched by
commensurate improvement in the detail of socioeconomic data on urban distribu-
tions. This creates something of an asymmetry between our increasingly detailed
understanding of built form and our ability to measure the detail of intra urban socio-
economic distributions (and we should not forget that built form is also measurable
through national mapping agency framework data (Smith et al. 2005 ). However,
remote sensing and socioeconomic sources increasingly present complementary
approaches, in that today's high-resolution urban remote sensing data may also be
used to constrain GIS-based representations of socioeconomic distributions (Harris
and Longley 2000 ).
There is considerable research in the patterning of cities but much of this has
been focused on explaining urban structure and form at a single point in time, as if
cities were in some sort of perpetual equilibrium. Clearly the absence of rigorous
data through time has been a major constraint on our ability to manufacture an
appropriate science of urban dynamics and thus most of the thinking about urban
change has been speculative and non rigorous. This is changing. New data sets, a
concern for intrinsically dynamic issues such as how to control and manage urban
sprawl rather then simply worrying about the spatial arrangement of growth, and
new techniques such as urban remote sensing which are being fast developed to
process routine information from satellite and aerial photographic data, are becom-
ing important. This topic will deal with these techniques in considerable detail but
in this chapter we will set the context in illustrating the kinds of issues that are
involved in understanding the most significant aspects of contemporary urban
growth: suburban development and sprawl. In the next section we will examine the
physical manifestation of suburbanization and this will set the context to a discus-
sion of urban sprawl in Europe where we will focus on how it might be measured
and understood.
Physical Manifestations of Urban
Growth: Suburbanization and Sprawl
Whether we envision vast swathes of single-family detached houses, each surrounded
by a garden and equipped with a swimming pool as in many parts of North America,
the much more fragmented and diversified low density fringes
of European cities, or the seemingly uncontrollable slums
sprawling around the capital cities in developing countries, it is
clear that suburbanization is the distinctive outcome of contem-
porary urban growth. Urban sprawl is by no means restricted to
any particular social or economic group or any culture or
indeed any place. It is largely the results of a growing popula-
tion whose location is uncoordinated and unmanaged, driven from the bottom-up and
subject to aggregate forces involving control over the means of production whose
impact we find hard to explain in generic terms.
is the distinc-
tive outcome of
urban growth
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