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Iossifova, D., Sengupta, U., 2017.

Urban transformations in China: Linking soft and hard urban systems

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:2017 International Conference on China Urban Development
Publisher:The Bartlett School of Planning - UCL
Dates:5/5/2017 - 6/5/2017

The change in the speed, scale and scope of urbanisation over the past decades and the emergence of different urban forms and constellations require the development of new analytical frameworks and practical tools to model, understand and manage sociospatial change. The increasing availability of urban data carries potential for the development of new methods for an evidence-based understanding of cities as interrelated and linked systems. However, existing approaches, such as smart or eco city strategies, do not offer an understanding of correlations and causalities between different urban systems. They fail to address the links between 'soft' (economic, ecological and social) and 'hard' (engineered) systems. This paper reports on progress and findings
from the international and interdisciplinary project Data and Cities as Complex Adaptive Systems (DACAS).

Building on the increasing availability of (big) urban data, DACAS develops new analytical frameworks to understand urban processes. Rooted in a complexity science framework, the paper proposes appropriate interdisciplinary methods for the comparative analysis of soft and hard urban data sets. It asks: What kinds of urban systems exist in Chinese cities today and how have they changed over time? How are urban systems planned, financed, implemented, managed, maintained and improved? Which urban systems are linked with each other (e.g. health; local governance; regulation; finance)? Which strategies can be applied to 'futureproof' their provision? The paper presents initial protocols for interoperable models for the use of data to link
hard and soft urban systems. It demonstrates how digital tools and technological applications can reflect urban complexity and the linked and relational behaviour of real urban systems to aid their planning and design in the context of rapidly urbanising China and beyond.