In PLUS research, people are our focus. Everyone is included, from societal thought leaders, to government policy-makers, to high-level civil society advocates – through to entrepreneurs and citizens, including the disenfranchised. These people are our collaborators, our participants, our beneficiaries, our users. PLUS focuses on understanding the spatial information needs of society and responding to those needs in responsible ways – as tools, as systems, as infrastructure, or as ways of thinking. Our work sits at the nexus of urbanization, land tenure, governance, climate change, and transportation – and the grand challenges of sustainability and social equity in the age of the anthropocene.
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urbanization, land rights, infrastructuring, governance, collaborative spatial planning and management, land policy, cadastral intelligence, fit-for-purpose and responsible land administration, information management, innovation, spatial planning and decision support systems (PSS/DSS), sustainable development goals (SDGs), poverty reduction, pro- poor, integrated urban land use and transport modelling, transport planning, non-motorized transport, climate change, big data analytics, disaster risk reduction, SMART cities, urban remote sensing, mapping with UAVs, slum, housing and livelihoods, social equity
Urban systems everywhere are facing inter-related challenges of high population growth, changes in local economic prospects, and the localized impacts of global climate change. Particularly in developing countries, the demographic impact is compounded by the rapid increase in new rural in-migrants which creates fertile conditions for many cultural and socio-political conflicts in the urban spaces. Local economic prospects vary from place to place, and both winners and losers can be observed with the consequent effects on overall prospects for citizen’s quality of life. The climate change impacts are compounded by the vulnerability of the many great cities which are coastal, thus facing significant inevitable sea-level rise which already brings land use change conflicts.
Land and environmental policies without adequate spatially integrated information and knowledge will fail to distribute land and natural resources efficiently, equitably and transparently. Rapid urbanization can have disruptive consequences on the urban regions (cities and their surroundings)—in the form of excessive in-migration, lack of infrastructure and services, air and noise pollution, disruption of social and family networks—often at the expense of poor citizens.
Nowadays, citizen participation in decision and policy making, beyond the essential value-added of citizens proven deeply localized information, including local spatial knowledge (LSK) is widely proven, under the appropriate conditions, to improve the governance of urban regions and their natural resources. The provision of appropriate information to government, civil society, and individual citizens via (participatory) land and urban geo-information systems, as well as the provision of policy solutions for complex environmental, land and urban problems, and the communication of the findings to decision makers are a step towards better governance, because of the closer understanding of needs and priorities, improved feedback, and the potential for innovative solutions from the citizenry.
Better governance follows from targeted responses to spatially-specific problems. The challenge for urban governance is how to reconcile this demand for high-resolution spatial specificity with the scale economies of broader-based analysis and planning responses that are grounded in the notion of sustainable development.
- We aim to provide government and other major stakeholders with disaggregated data for better targeting of poverty alleviation interventions; a better understanding of the nature of urban development and its relationship with infrastructures & services; tools for better understanding of transport-induced urban space and vice versa; collaborative approaches and participatory methods for environmental planning and urban disaster risk management. Overall this implies the provision of new integrated spatial knowledge over a range of relevant disciplines about how complex real-world urban-regional systems might behave and respond to policy interventions.
- We aim to provide policy-makers and citizens with transparent land administration systems for better land policy design and implementation and experiment with participatory socio-technical platforms (e.g. human sensor webs) for increased citizen participation in game-changing information provision, and decision and policy making.
- We aim to provide researchers with better, focused, targeted, relevant information to use in analyses of urban governance – in allocation of space, transport, risk management, poverty alleviation, environmental improvements, etc. and with methods to produce and analyze and apply such information.
Inter-disciplinarily & methods
We combine expertise in geography, GIScience, transport & infrastructure planning, environmental planning analysis and spatial planning, economics and law, as well as public administration and sociology. We employ a wide palette of methods, ranging from spatial analysis and modeling and information system design to environmental evaluation, and participatory social research methods, case studies and ethnography. We use a combination of sophisticated technologies and appropriate tools, some innovative, and some well-rehearsed, depending on the specific context.