Modelling urban spatial change: a review of international and South African modelling initiatives

  • Chris Wray, 

    Dr Josephine Musango, 

    Kavesha Damon, 

    Dr Koech Cheruiyot

  • Date of publication: 1 August 2013
  • Download Occasional paper

Urban growth and land use change models have the potential to become important tools for urban spatial planning and management. Before embarking on any modelling, however, GCRO felt it was important to take note of, and critically assess lessons to be learnt from international experience and scholarship on spatial modelling, as well as a number of South African experiments that model future urban development. In 2012, GCRO initiated preliminary research into current international and South African modelling trends through a desktop study and telephone, email and personal interviews. This Occasional paper sets out to investigate what urban spatial change modelling research is currently being undertaken internationally and within South Africa. At the international level, urban modelling research since 2000 is reviewed according to five main categories: land use transportation (LUT), cellular automata, urban system dynamics, agent-based models (ABMs) and spatial economics/econometric models (SE/EMs). Within South Africa, urban modelling initiatives are categorised differently and include a broader range of urban modelling techniques. Typologies used include: provincial government modelling initiatives in Gauteng; municipal government modelling initiatives; other government-funded modelling research; and academic modelling research. The various modelling initiatives described are by no means a comprehensive review of all urban spatial change modelling projects in South Africa, but provide a broad indication of the types of urban spatial change modelling underway. Importantly, the models may form the basis for more accurate and sophisticated urban modelling projects in the future. The paper concludes by identifying key urban modelling opportunities and challenges for short- to long-term planning in the GCR and South Africa.


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