Analyzing Links between Spatio-Temporal Metrics of Built-Up Areas and Socio-Economic Indicators on a Semi-Global Scale
ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Manifold socio-economic processes shape the built and natural elements in urban areas. They thus influence both the living environment of urban dwellers and sustainability in many dimensions. Monitoring the development of the urban fabric and its relationships with socio-economic and environmental processes will help to elucidate their linkages and, thus, aid in the development of new strategies for more sustainable development. In this study, we identified empirical and significant
... s between income, inequality, GDP, air pollution and employment indicators and their change over time with the spatial organization of the built and natural elements in functional urban areas. We were able to demonstrate this in 32 countries using spatio-temporal metrics, using geoinformation from databases available worldwide. We employed random forest regression, and we were able to explain 32% to 68% of the variability of socio-economic variables. This confirms that spatial patterns and their change are linked to socio-economic indicators. We also identified the spatio-temporal metrics that were more relevant in the models: we found that urban compactness, concentration degree, the dispersion index, the densification of built-up growth, accessibility and land-use/land-cover density and change could be used as proxies for some socio-economic indicators. This study is a first and fundamental step for the identification of such relationships at a global scale. The proposed methodology is highly versatile, the inclusion of new datasets is straightforward, and the increasing availability of multi-temporal geospatial and socio-economic databases is expected to empirically boost the study of these relationships from a multi-temporal perspective in the near future.