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A Regional Spatial-retrofitting Approach (RSRA) to Geovisualise Regional Urban Growth: An Application to the Golden Horseshoe in Canada

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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 cover 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.

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Article provided by CIEO-Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, University of Algarve in its journal Journal of Spatial and Organizational Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 229-240

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Handle: RePEc:ris:jspord:0015
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University of Algarve, Faculty of Economics, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal, President of the Centre: Saul Neves de Jesus, E-mail:

Phone: +351 289 244 406
Fax: 351-289-818303
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  1. Fujita, Masahisa & Krugman, Paul, 1995. "When is the economy monocentric?: von Thunen and Chamberlin unified," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 505-528, August.
  2. Robert Pontius & Wideke Boersma & Jean-Christophe Castella & Keith Clarke & Ton Nijs & Charles Dietzel & Zengqiang Duan & Eric Fotsing & Noah Goldstein & Kasper Kok & Eric Koomen & Christopher Lippitt, 2008. "Comparing the input, output, and validation maps for several models of land change," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 42(1), pages 11-37, March.
  3. Hatzopoulou, M. & Miller, E.J., 2009. "Transport policy evaluation in metropolitan areas: The role of modelling in decision-making," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 323-338, May.
  4. Gibson, Bob & Leung, Danny & Rispoli, Luke, 2011. "Small, Medium-sized and Large Businesses in the Canadian Economy: Measuring Their Contribution to Gross Domestic Product in 2005," Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series 2011069e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  5. E G Moore & M W Rosenberg, 1995. "Modelling migration flows of immigrant groups in Canada," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 27(5), pages 699-714, May.
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