Urban Landscape Metrics

Urban Change and its Impacts

Urban Landscape Metrics

Urban Change and its Impacts

It is notoriously hard to measure and track ‘urban’ as there are multiple dimensions to it; social, demographic, geographic, perceputal, environmental and patterns of growth and decline. In this long standing research project, we seek to provide some novel ways of understanding our urban environments operate and change, and how those changes shape our behaviours. In doing so, we seek to understand the limitations as well as the suitability of measurements from various types of data streams (administrative to environmental sensors). By tracking the changes in these measurements, we seek characterise urban change around the world.

For example, in McCarty & Kaza(2015) we used data from different air pollution sensors in a county to calculate the number of days with bad air quality in a year. We then relate it to urban fragmentation metrics obtained from land cover data. We find that while counties with higher forest land area have higher number of polluted days. This effect is mitigated when these forests are closer to urban areas. Similarly, urban form measured as land use density or type or measured as geomorphometry have been shown to have different on energy consumption patterns in cities.

At the same time, urban economy is also rapidly changing. One narrative of the cities argues for understanding and applauding the renaissance of cities during the decades of 1990s and 2000s (comeback cities). Another narrative suggest that this renaissance is highly uneven and is concentrated in innovative regions, while cities in the rest of the regions (backwards) are loosing ground. To provide evidence for explanations and to disentangle the causes of these phenomena are some of the main motivations of this project.

A natural outgrowth of this research is produce different plausible futures of urban form in different places. Since the configuration as well as the extent of urban form matter for climate as well as environmental outcomes, we seek to develop methods for projecting different futures based on various patterns, we observe in the past and learn from them.

Our goal is to expand the repertoire of urban areas to include areas from various parts of the world, including Asia, Africa and South America.


Nikhil Kaza
Associate Professor

My research interests include urbanization patterns, local energy policy and equity


Index of Moment of Inertia can be used to measure both the fragmentation levels and extent of fragmentation. This is a complementary …

McMillen method of identifying outliers in local neighborhood.

Creating urban landscape metrics


Transportation energy is a significant portion of the energy consumption of the US economy. While various policies such as changing the …

Abstract While urban form affects building energy consumption, the pathways, direction and magnitude of the effect are disputed in the …

In the years since Michael Porter’s paper about the potential competitiveness of inner cities there has been growing evidence of …

In metropolitan regions, urban form is usually associated with pollutant levels. However, empirical analyses have relied on small …

Problem: Given the extent of deindustrialization since the late 1970s, many cities are forced to deal with a legacy of vacant and …

Sprawling urbanisation has been the hallmark of development in United States. This study intends to provide a comprehensive overview of …

The need for models that forecast land use change spans many disciplines. Pattern-based models were the first in which projections of …

Land use planners and environmental advocates often argue in favor of compact growth and the consolidation of commercial activity into …


Transportation energy consumption in the United States and its relation to urban form

The role of federalism in urban development