Information and Communication Technologies: Catalysts for Sustainable Urban Development

Information and Communication Technologies: Catalysts for Sustainable Urban Development

Tan Yigitcanlar (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-022-7.ch006
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The concept of sustainable urban development has been pushed to the forefront of policy-making and politics as the world wakes up to the impacts of climate change and the effects of modern urban lifestyles. Today, sustainable development has become a very prominent element in the day-to-day debate on urban policy and the expression of that policy in urban planning and development decisions. As a result of this, during the last few years, sustainable development automation applications such as sustainable urban development decision support systems have become popular tools as they offer new opportunities for local governments to realise their sustainable development agendas. This chapter explores a range of issues associated with the application of information and communication technologies and decision support systems in the process of underpinning sustainable urban development. The chapter considers how information and communication technologies can be applied to enhance urban planning, raise environmental awareness, share decisions and improve public participation. It introduces and explores three web-based geographical information systems projects as best practice. These systems are developed as support tools to include public opinion in the urban planning and development processes, and to provide planners with comprehensive tools for the analysis of sustainable urban development variants in order to prepare the best plans for constructing sustainable urban communities and futures.
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It is predicted that by 2050 the world’s population will be 9.3 billion, and that 75% of this population will live in cities (United Nations, 2000). The mega forces unleashed by this urban population explosion threaten to overwhelm the economic, social and environmental systems of human settlements. In this circumstance, the fostering of sustainable urban development (SUD) provides our only positive chance to prevent the undermining of the environmental and social systems on which we depend (Hezri & Dovers, 2006). SUD requires a coordinated approach to planning and policy making that involves public participation. Its success depends on widespread understanding of the critical relationship between people and their environment, and on the will to make necessary changes (Ziliaskopoulos & Waller, 2000). Information and communication technologies (ICTs) and community based planning are dominant features of SUD (Jabareen, 2006). They open excellent opportunities for cities to solve problems, seize new opportunities, and strengthen their economic, social and environmental performance. Community-based planning is a place specific, collaborative approach for achieving the goals of sustaining quality of life and safeguarding the built and natural environment.

The main objectives of this chapter are: to identify the importance of community-based planning and of building public capacity for SUD; to link ICTs and SUD to strengthen common understanding of the role of ICTs in urban planning, property and management; to identify a range of visions and scenarios for innovative use of ICTs to rethink the organisation of the city, and for planning and urban development processes that will contribute to more inclusive decision making and support more sustainable solutions. Key research foci of this chapter are: how ICTs can contribute to SUD, and why communities and local governments should adopt ICTs. To answer these questions, this chapter discusses issues of SUD, community-based planning, and the potential of ICTs. It also examines three web-based geographic information systems projects from UK, US and Japan as examples of best practice. In addition, the chapter explores the role of ICTs in achieving SUD, and their potential to involve local communities in planning processes.

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