Advancing Sustainable Urbanism Processes: The Key Practical and Analytical Applications of Big Data for Urban Systems and Domains

  • Simon Elias BibriEmail author
Part of the Advances in Science, Technology & Innovation book series (ASTI)


Sustainable cities have been the leading global paradigm of urbanism. Undoubtedly, sustainable development has significantly positively influenced city planning and development since the early 1990s. This pertains to the immense opportunities that have been explored and, thus, the enormous benefits that have been realized from the planning and development of sustainable urban forms as an instance of sustainable cities. However, the existing models of such forms, especially compact cities and eco-cities, are associated with a number of problems, issues, and challenges. This mainly involves the question of how such forms should be monitored, understood, and analyzed to improve, advance, and maintain their contribution to sustainability and hence to overcome the kind of wicked problems, intractable issues, and complex challenges they embody. This in turn brings us to the current question related to the weak connection between and the extreme fragmentation of sustainable cities and smart cities as approaches and landscapes, respectively, despite the great potential of advanced ICT for, and also its proven role in, supporting sustainable cities in improving their performance under what is labeled ‘smart sustainable cities.’ This integrated approach to urbanism takes multiple forms of combining the strengths of sustainable cities and smart cities based on how the concept of smart sustainable cities can be conceptualized and operationalized. In this respect, there has recently been a conscious push for cities across the globe to be smarter and thus more sustainable by particularly utilizing big data technology and its applications in the hopes of reaching the optimal level of sustainability. Having a twofold aim, this chapter firstly provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art review of the domain of sustainable urbanism, with a focus on compact cities and eco-cities as models of sustainable urban forms and thus instances of sustainable cities, in terms of research issues and debates, knowledge gaps, challenges, opportunities, benefits, and emerging practices. It secondly highlights and substantiates the real, yet untapped, potential of big data technology and its novel applications for advancing sustainable cities. In so doing, it identifies, synthesizes, distills, and enumerates the key practical and analytical applications of big data technology for multiple urban domains. This study shows that sustainable urban forms involve limitations, inadequacies, difficulties, fallacies, and uncertainties in the context of sustainability, in spite of what has been realized over the past three decades or so within sustainable urbanism. Nevertheless, as also revealed by this study, tremendous opportunities are available for exploiting big data technology and its novel applications to smarten up sustainable urban forms in ways that can improve, advance, and sustain their contribution to the goals of sustainable development by optimizing and enhancing their operations, functions, services, designs, strategies, and policies across multiple urban domains, as well as by finding answers to challenging analytical questions and transforming the way knowledge can be developed and applied.


Sustainable cities Compact cities Eco-cities Smart sustainable cities Big data applications Big data computing Sustainable development Sustainable urbanism Design concepts Typologies Urban domains 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Department of Urban Planning and DesignNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

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