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A regional spatial-retrofitting approach to geovisualise regional urban growth: An application to the Golden Horseshoe in Canada

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posted on 21.05.2021, 16:50 by Eric Vaz, Amy Buckland, Kevin Worthington
Understanding urban change in particular for larger regions has been a great demur in both regional planning and geography. One of the main challenges has been linked to the potential of modelling urban change. The absence of spatial data and size of areas of study limit the traditional urban monitoring approaches, which also do not take into account visualization techniques that share information with the community. This is the case of the Golden Horseshoe in southern Ontario in Canada, one of the fastest growing regions in North America. An unprecedented change on the urban environment has been witnessed, leading to an increased importance of awareness for future planning in the region. With a population greater than 8 million, the Golden Horseshoe is steadily showing symptoms of becoming a mega-urban region, joining surrounding cities into a single and diversified urban landscape. However, little effort has been done to understand these changes, nor to share information with policy makers, stakeholders and investors. These players are in need of the most diverse information on urban land use, which is seldom available from a single source. The spatio-temporal effect of the growth of this urban region could very well be the birth of yet another North American megacity. Therefore, from a spatial perspective there is demand for joint collaboration and adoption of a regional science perspective including land use and spatio-temporal configurations. This calls forth a novel technique that allows for assessment of urban and regional change, and supports decision-making without having the usual concerns of locational data availability. It is this sense, that we present a spatial-retrofitting model, with the objective of (i) retrofitting spatial land use based on current land use and land cover, and assessing proportional change in the past, leading to four spatial timestamps of the Golden Horseshoe’s land use, while (ii) integrating this in a multi-user open source web environment to facilitate synergies for decision-making. This combined approach is referred to as a regional-spatial-retrofitting approach (RSRA), where the conclusions permit accurate assessment of land use in past time frames based on Landsat imagery. The RSRA also allows for a collective vision of regional urban growth supporting local governance through a decision-making process adhering to Volunteered Geographic Information Systems. Urban land use change can be refined by means of contribution from end-users through a web environment, leading to a constant understanding and monitoring of urban land use and urban land use change.



Ryerson University



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