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Concept: Urban planning


Studies have shown that natural environments can enhance health and here we build upon that work by examining the associations between comprehensive greenspace metrics and health. We focused on a large urban population center (Toronto, Canada) and related the two domains by combining high-resolution satellite imagery and individual tree data from Toronto with questionnaire-based self-reports of general health perception, cardio-metabolic conditions and mental illnesses from the Ontario Health Study. Results from multiple regressions and multivariate canonical correlation analyses suggest that people who live in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees on their streets report significantly higher health perception and significantly less cardio-metabolic conditions (controlling for socio-economic and demographic factors). We find that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being 7 years younger. We also find that having 11 more trees in a city block, on average, decreases cardio-metabolic conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $20,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years younger.

Concepts: Demography, City, Urban area, Developed environments, Canada, São Paulo, Urban planning, Village


There is wide agreement that there is a lack of attention to health in municipal environmental policy-making, such as urban planning and regeneration. Explanations for this include differing professional norms between health and urban environment professionals, system complexity and limited evidence for causality between attributes of the built environment and health outcomes. Data from urban health indicator (UHI) tools are potentially a valuable form of evidence for local government policy and decision-makers. Although many UHI tools have been specifically developed to inform policy, there is poor understanding of how they are used. This study aims to identify the nature and characteristics of UHI tools and their use by municipal built environment policy and decision-makers.

Concepts: Natural environment, City, Policy, Government, Urban decay, Urban planning, Town, Urban design


Urbanism in the Bronze-age Indus Civilisation (~4.6-3.9 thousand years before the present, ka) has been linked to water resources provided by large Himalayan river systems, although the largest concentrations of urban-scale Indus settlements are located far from extant Himalayan rivers. Here we analyse the sedimentary architecture, chronology and provenance of a major palaeochannel associated with many of these settlements. We show that the palaeochannel is a former course of the Sutlej River, the third largest of the present-day Himalayan rivers. Using optically stimulated luminescence dating of sand grains, we demonstrate that flow of the Sutlej in this course terminated considerably earlier than Indus occupation, with diversion to its present course complete shortly after ~8 ka. Indus urban settlements thus developed along an abandoned river valley rather than an active Himalayan river. Confinement of the Sutlej to its present incised course after ~8 ka likely reduced its propensity to re-route frequently thus enabling long-term stability for Indus settlements sited along the relict palaeochannel.

Concepts: Time, Water, Urban planning, Himalayas, Bronze Age, Indus River, Indus Valley Civilization, Sutlej


Urban green mapping has become an operational task in city planning, urban land management, and quality of life assessments. As a multi-dimensional, integrative concept, urban green comprising several ecological, socio-economic, and policy-related aspects. In this paper, the author advances the representation of urban green by deriving scale-adapted, policy-relevant units. These so-called geons represent areas of uniform green valuation under certain size and homogeneity constraints in a spatially explicit representation. The study accompanies a regular monitoring scheme carried out by the urban municipality of the city of Salzburg, Austria, using optical satellite data. It was conducted in two stages, namely SBG_QB (10.2 km², QuickBird data from 2005) and SBG_WV (140 km², WorldView-2 data from 2010), within the functional urban area of Salzburg. The geon delineation was validated by several quantitative measures and spatial analysis techniques, as well as ground documentation, including panorama photographs and visual interpretation. The spatial association pattern was assessed by calculating Global Moran’s I with incremental search distances. The final geonscape, consisting of 1083 units with an average size of 13.5 ha, was analyzed by spatial metrics. Finally, categories were derived for different types of functional geons. Future research paths and improvements to the described strategy are outlined.

Concepts: Physics, City, Urban area, Developed environments, Urban planning, Town, Spatial data analysis, Salzburg


To determine if blight remediation of abandoned buildings and vacant lots can be a cost-beneficial solution to firearm violence in US cities.

Concepts: City, Urban decay, Urban planning


This paper presents a literature review that explores the challenges for planning in urban regions in connection with the preservation of ecosystem services. It further presents some best practice examples for meeting these challenges. The demand for the provision of ecosystem services within urban regions changed during the transition from a largely agrarian society to an industrial society and, most recently, to a service society. While in the past, provisioning services such as food production or the provision of raw material, were decisive for urban development, today cultural services, e.g. clear views or nearby recreation areas, have become increasingly important. According to the literature, soil sealing is the greatest threat urbanisation poses towards ecosystem services, as it compromises all of them. Spatially extensive cities with a high building density particularly inhibit regulating services like the regulation of temperature or water surface run-off. Conversely, scattered settlement patterns may lead to very small remnants of open space that cannot reasonably serve as natural habitat, agricultural land or recreation area. The challenges for planning in urban regions are: (i) specifying regulations that define outer limits to the development of each settlement unit; (ii) comprehensive planning with focal points for development, and limiting access and development at other places; (iii) compensating for new soil sealing by restoring nearby sealed areas. The paper presents three best-practice examples that support these principles: designating areas with a particular soil quality that should not be built over; offering incentives for corporate planning in urban regions; and restoring a country road in connection with a motorway construction. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2013 SETAC.

Concepts: Biodiversity, City, Ecosystem, Management, Regulation, Sustainability, Urban planning, Sociocultural evolution


The city is a complex system that evolves through its inherent social and economic interactions. Mediating the movements of people and resources, urban street networks offer a spatial footprint of these activities. Of particular interest is the interplay between street structure and its functional usage. Here, we study the shape of 472,040 spatiotemporally optimized travel routes in the 92 most populated cities in the world, finding that their collective morphology exhibits a directional bias influenced by the attractive (or repulsive) forces resulting from congestion, accessibility, and travel demand. To capture this, we develop a simple geometric measure, inness, that maps this force field. In particular, cities with common inness patterns cluster together in groups that are correlated with their putative stage of urban development as measured by a series of socio-economic and infrastructural indicators, suggesting a strong connection between urban development, increasing physical connectivity, and diversity of road hierarchies.

Concepts: General relativity, City, Sociology, Force, Metaphysics, Urban planning, Road, Grid plan


The development of effective sediment management strategies is a key requirement in tropical areas with fast urban development, like Brasilia DF, Brazil, because of the limited resources available. Accurate identification and management of sediment sources areas, however, is hampered by the dearth of reliable information on the primary sources of sediment. Few studies have attempted to quantify the source of sediment within fast urbanizing, mixed used, tropical catchments. In this study, statistically verified composite fingerprints and a multivariate mixing model have been used to identify the main land use specific sources of sediment deposited in the artificial Lago Paranoá, Central Brazil. Because of the variability of urban land use types within the Lago Paranoá sub-catchments, the fingerprinting approach was additionally undertaking for the Riacho Fundo sub-catchment. The main contributions from individual source types (i.e. surface materials from residential areas, constructions sites, road deposited sediment, cultivated areas, pasture, farm tracks, woodland and natural gullies) varied between the whole catchment and the Riacho Fundo sub-catchment, reflecting the different proportions of land uses. The sediments deposited in the silting zones of the Lago Paranoá originate largely from urban sources (85±4%). Areas with (semi-) natural vegetation and natural gullies contribute 10±2% of the sediment yield. Agricultural sites have only a minor sediment contribution of about 5±4% within the whole catchment. Within the Riacho Fundo sub-catchment there is a significant contribution from urban (53±4%) source, such as residential areas with semi-detached housings (42±3%) with unpaved roads (12±3%) and construction sites (20±3%) and agricultural areas (31±2%). The relative contribution from land use specific sources to the sediment deposition in the silting zone of the Lago Paranoá demonstrated that most of the sediment is derived from sites with high anthropogenic impact.

Concepts: Sediment, Drainage basin, Erosion, Urban planning, Source, Land use, Land use planning, Fingerprint


Intersectoral collaboration (ISC) is important in the health field because the complexity of determinants of health makes it difficult for one institution to resolve all health issues. Promotion of physical activity can especially benefit from a multi-sectoral approach. Despite so much emphasis on its importance in both primary health and health promotion, ISC has been underachieved in the field. This study aimed to examine the characteristics and level of ISC among physical activity programs in Healthy Cities as compared to non-Healthy Cities. I conducted a postal survey where 24 people from Healthy Cities and 72 people from non-Healthy Cities participated. The survey included questions to measure the level of ISC as well as to determine ISC partners and activities. Among the entire 393 physical activity programs, 336 (85.5%) had some kind of collaboration with one or more partners. The percentage having one or more partners was greater in Healthy Cities than in non-Healthy Cities. However, there were no statistical differences between the two groups in terms of the level of ISC within a municipal organization. Collaboration activities of the other departments were mostly supportive, such as providing a venue, recruiting participants and publicizing, and other kinds of administrative support. To strengthen ISC in Korean Healthy Cities, various actions including providing a legal basis, specific and substantive supports, financial incentives, and organizational recognitions will be helpful as well as the development of partnerships with other departments in urban planning, transport, urban design, and communication.

Concepts: Public health, Health disparities, City, Nursing, Population health, Urban decay, Urban planning, Urban design


3D visibility analysis plays a key role in urban planning for assessing the visual impact of proposed buildings on the cityscape. A call for proposals typically yields around 30 candidate buildings that need to be evaluated with respect to selected viewpoints. Current visibility analysis methods are very time-consuming and limited to a small number of viewpoints. Further, analysts neither have measures to evaluate candidates quantitatively, nor to compare them efficiently. The primary contribution of this work is the design study of Vis-A-Ware, a visualization system to qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate, rank, and compare visibility data of candidate buildings with respect to a large number of viewpoints. Vis-A-Ware features a 3D spatial view of an urban scene and non-spatial views of data derived from visibility evaluations, which are tightly integrated by linked interaction. To enable a quantitative evaluation we developed four metrics in accordance with experts from urban planning. We illustrate the applicability of Vis-A-Ware on the basis of a use case scenario and present results from informal feedback sessions with domain experts from urban planning and development. This feedback suggests that Vis-A-Ware is a valuable tool for visibility analysis allowing analysts to answer complex questions more efficiently and objectively.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Quantitative research, Analysis, Urban planning, Large numbers, Candidate, Architecture