Image Processing Reference
In-Depth Information
In the following discussion, we will focus upon urban sprawl as a defining characteristic
of urban development and growth. Given the difficulties inherent in measuring and
monitoring physically-manifest socioeconomic structures,
set out above, we will adopt what is essentially a physicalist
definition of sprawl as the rapid and uncoordinated growth of
urban settlements at their urban fringes, associated with modest
population growth and sustained economic growth. What is
particularly interesting about urban sprawl is less the quest for
an all-encompassing definition of its causes and manifestations,
than the challenge it represents for the theoretical and scientific
debates. In this respect the fields of science interested in col-
lecting and structuring empirical evidence of urban growth
through remote sensing are becoming increasingly important. When it comes to defin-
ing and analyzing urban sprawl, urban theories, whether traditional or emergent,
descriptive or normative, conflict with each other on almost everything, from their
conception and rationale, through to the measurement of sprawl and the recommended
policy assessment and analysis which such theories imply in its control.
While we have defined urban sprawl in general terms, its exact local connotations
will always likely be debatable. From this standpoint, as Ewing ( 1994 ) implies, it is
often easier to define sprawl by what it is not. It is sometimes implicitly defined by
comparison to the ideal of the compact city, and for the most part, emerges as its poor
cousin. The consequences of urban sprawl remain a hot topic of policy concern, most
often because of its perception as a force eroding the countryside, which marks the
final passing of an urban-rural world into an entirely urbanized one (see Chapter 3 in
this volume) - with all the negative connotations that this implies for the visual envi-
ronment, as well as a growing concern for the impacts posed to long-term urban
sustainability. Though these concerns are not new, the last 20 years of economic
growth has fuelled not only rapid urban expansion but associated problems such as
crime, unemployment, and local government budget deficits which are all connected
to the contrast between the sprawling periphery of the city and its inner decline.
Urban sprawl has thus become a major contemporary public policy issue.
During much of the twentieth century, the control of urban growth has been of
major concern to planning agencies who have sought to control peripheral develop-
ment through a variety of rather blunt instruments such as “green belts” and strict
development controls which were designed to “stop” growth.
But as contemporary accounts of urban sprawl illustrate
(Hayden 2004 ), these instruments have been largely ineffec-
tive and now the focus is on much more informed and
intelligent strategies for dealing with such growth.
Contemporary urban strategies focus more on sustainability
of development under different economic scenarios and have
come to be called strategies for “smart growth.” We have
come to the understanding that growth can never be “stopped”
per se and thus peripheralization of cities is likely to continue
for it is unlikely that even the most draconian strategies to
urban sprawl
is generally
defined as the
rapid and
growth of urban
settlements at
their fringes
“smart growth”
denotes a range
of urban
strategies that
focuses on
of development
under different
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