Data-Driven Smart Sustainable Cities of the Future: New Conceptions of and Approaches to the Spatial Scaling of Urban Form
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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There is a growing interest in urban form as the spatial concretization of urban sustainability. At the core of sustainable urban form is the spatial pattern of the different types of the physical objects characterizing the built-up areas of settlements at different spatial scales. The spatial features of urban design is key to producing the benefits of sustainability and enacting its effects as outcomes of processes. However, it has been difficult to evaluate how and to what extent sustainable urban forms contribute to sustainability and to judge whether or not a certain sustainable urban form is actually sustainable. Therefore, there is a need to find more effective ways to address and implement the spatial scaling of sustainable urban form in an attempt to increase the positive outcomes of sustainability. This relates to the emerging model of sustainable cities, which is increasingly being enabled by urban computing and intelligence in terms of planning and design under what has been termed “data-driven smart sustainable cities”. This paper analyzes and discusses the emerging conceptions of and approaches to spatial scales that should be considered in the planning and design of data-driven smart sustainable cities of the future. In doing so, it highlights the innovative potential of urban computing and intelligence for enhancing and transforming the spatial scaling of sustainable urban form. I argue that data-driven technologies allow sustainable urban forms to monitor, understand, and analyze the different aspects of their spatial scaling for generating the kind of designs that improve sustainability. Conceiving spatial scales as outcomes of processes and planning accordingly hold great potential for attaining the goals of sustainability. Sustainability outcomes are multi-scalar in nature, which justifies the need to integrate spatial scales that have clear synergies in their management and planning and need to be coupled. This synergic integration produces combined effects that are greater than the sum of the separate effects of spatial scales with respect to sustainability benefits.