Coloring Urbanization

December 16, 2014

Smart cities are providing a rich access to infrastructure services like free internet access, charging stations for electric cars, or open data initiatives. But the progress of smart infrastructures depends on the urbanization of cities. It is common that smart services emerge in regions with a high density of urbanization. But on the other side, it is necessary to provide these services in regions with low density of urbanization. This discussion is a fundamental part in the policy-making process.

The European Environment Agency provides a map data set including the main cities in Europe. The analysis comprehends the density of urbanization based on regions with low up to high land use. The maps (.shp files) can be displayed and customized with the open source software QGIS.

Maps including a high level of details are filled with a huge amount of information and it is often necessary to focus on specific insights of the maps. If you don’t take care of this issue, it can hide the more relevant aspects of the map. One possible solution can be coloring and it is required to find the suitable colors that are used for reducing and highlighting particular features. The ColorBrewer tool can be helpful to highlight the density of urbanization with a suitable color set.

  • Highlighting urban zones
  • Reducing not relevant information
  • Contoures to emphasize streets or water

The scale of highlighting urban zones ranges from – very high , – high, – middle, – low, – very low density.

A big advantage of QGIS is the import and export of styles, so you only need to style one map and the style can be used for additional maps as a template. Now, it is possible to recognize patterns visually after coloring all German cities.

The density of urbanization is centralized and has the highest amount in the middle of city centers (i.e. Berlin). But there are also outliers like the city Essen, which provides a highly distributed urbanization instead of a centralized infrastructure. A second pattern is the satellite structure of small cities, villages, and places around the big cities. This can be a complication to provide infrastructure services. The access to high speed internet or charging stations of electric cars can be restricted because of the missing connectivity between the cities. Reaching a higher coverage of urbanization through a cost-effective solution of connecting the cities is the basis of providing smart infrastructure services for citizens.

Before: Raw data map

After: Colored features

The colored maps of german cities:

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