Sustainable Urban Forms: Time to Smarten up with Big Data Analytics and Context–Aware Computing for Sustainability

  • Simon Elias BibriEmail author
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


ICT is becoming increasingly spatially all pervasive, located anywhere and everywhere across urban environments, thereby providing the necessary basic infrastructure backbone for cities to realize their full potential in terms of sustainability through innovative solutions. As a consequence, data sensing and information processing are being fast embedded into the very fabric of contemporary cities while wireless networks are proliferating on a hard-to-imagine scale. This has been fueled by the new digital transition in ICT enabled by various forms of pervasive computing and driven predominantly by big data analytics and context-aware computing. This has in turn been justified by their underlying tremendous potential to enhance urban operations, functions, designs, services, strategies, and policies in line with the vision of sustainability. Further, while sustainable development has inspired a generation of scholars and practitioners in different disciplines into a quest for the immense opportunities created by the development of sustainable urban forms for human settlements, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed and overcome. The issue of such forms has been problematic and difficult to deal with, particularly in relation to the improvement of their contribution to the goals of sustainable development. In addition, given that smart sustainable cities are a new techno-urban phenomenon, there is a need for analytical frameworks merging the physical and informational landscapes of such cities. This can play a role in spurring their development and deployment based on big data analytics and context-aware computing. The purpose of this chapter is twofold. First, this chapter intends to examine and substantiate the potential of big data analytics and context-aware computing to improve urban sustainability. This entails integrating the big data and context-aware applications of smart sustainable cities with the typologies and design concepts of sustainable urban forms to achieve multiple hitherto unrealized smart targets or in ways that intelligently improve the contribution of sustainable urban forms to the goals of sustainable development. In doing so, we offer a conceptual framework in the form of a matrix of smart sustainable urban form to help planners and scholars in understanding and analyzing how the contribution of such form to sustainability can be improved with the support of advanced forms of ICT. Second, this chapter explores the opportunity of merging the physical and informational landscapes of smart sustainable cities to achieve the goals of sustainable development. Accordingly, two analytical frameworks are proposed, in which the components of the physical landscape of sustainable urban forms and those of the informational landscape of smart sustainable cities are identified on the basis of a thematic analysis and then merged together to enable and support data-centric and context-aware applications across urban systems and domains in the context of sustainability. Specifically, the study identifies two most influential technologies and their applications pertaining to models of the smart sustainable city as well as three design concepts and four typologies related to models of sustainable urban form.


Smart sustainable cities Sustainable urban forms Big data analytics Context-aware computing ICT Urban sustainability Data-centric and context-aware applications Typologies and design concepts Physical landscape Informational landscape Urban systems and domains 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information Science, Department of Urban Design and PlanningNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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