Machine learning algorithms are excellent at answering “yes” or “no” questions. For example, they can scan huge datasets and correctly tell us: Does this credit card transaction look fraudulent? Is there a cat in this photo?
But it’s not only the simple questions – they can also tackle nuanced and complex questions.
Today, machine learning algorithms can detect over 100 types of cancerous tumors more reliably than a trained human eye. Given this impressive accuracy, we started to wonder: what could machine learning tell us about where people live? In cities that are expanding at breathtaking rates and are at risk from natural disasters, could it warn us that a family’s wall might collapse during an earthquake or rooftop blow away during a hurricane?
More than 1,000 years.
That’s how long recent estimates suggest it would take in some developing countries to legally register all land – due to the limited number of land surveyors in country and the use of outdated, cumbersome, costly, and overly regulated surveying and registration procedures.
But I am convinced that the target of registering all land can be achieved – faster and cheaper. This is an urgent need in Africa where less than 10% of all land is surveyed and registered, as this impacts securing land tenure rights for both women and men – a move that can have a greater effect on household income, food security, and equity.
Perhaps one of our answers can be found in rural Tanzania where I recently witnessed the use of a mobile surveying and registration application. In several villages, USAID and the government of Tanzania are piloting the use of the Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST), one of several (open-source) applications available on the market. DFID, SIDA, and DANIDA are supporting a similar project.
South Africa has over 4 million migrants, including over 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. The latest South African census data estimates that migrants account for over 4% of the country’s population. , according to a new World Bank study.
There is a unique space where you can encounter everyone from developers of self-driving cars in Silicon Valley to city planners in Niamey to humanitarian workers in Kathmandu Valley: the global OpenStreetMap (OSM) community. It comprises a geographically and experientially diverse network of people who contribute to OSM, a free and editable map of the world that is often called the “Wikipedia of maps.”
What is perhaps most special about this community is its level playing field. Anyone passionate about collaborative mapping can have a voice from anywhere in the world. In the past few years, there has been a meteoric rise of locally organized mapping communities in developing countries working to improve the map in service of sustainable development activities.
The next opportunity to see the OSM community in action will be the November 14th mapathon hosted by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)’s Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI). Mapathons bring together volunteers to improve the maps of some of the world’s most vulnerable areas, not only easing the way for emergency responders when disaster strikes, but also helping cities and communities plan and build more resiliently for the future.
They play such a pivotal role in addressing global challenges and improving citizen’s lives that
Yet, it is nations that have led the discussions around solutions for a rapidly urbanizing world, leaving the voices of cities to a secondary role.
To highlight and share effective solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time, over 30 mayors from around the world will gather at the First Urban 20 Mayors Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 29-30, 2018. Together, they will provide concrete, experience-based recommendations to the leaders of the G20 countries on what it takes to achieve urban sustainability, inclusion, and prosperity.
As a strategic partner of the summit and the overall Urban 20 (U20) Initiative, the World Bank Group – including the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – is committed to helping global cities bring their expertise, needs, and voices to the center of global discussions on sustainable development. At the summit, the World Bank will present a series of knowledge notes to inform the U20 discussions and promote the exchange of ideas and innovative approaches to complex development issues, including:
- The future of work in cities
- Affordable housing in the world’s cities
- Urban mobility, health and public spaces
- Urban water resilience
In this video, World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and Lead Urban Specialist Horacio Terraza (@TerrazaH) talk about the importance of the U20 Initiative, the World Bank’s participation in the First U20 Mayors Summit, and what is next for U20 cities after the summit in Buenos Aires.
Watch the video to learn more. Watch the U20 Mayors Summit live here October 29-30, 2018. Follow @WBG_Cities and hashtag #Urban20 for updates on and from the summit.
Also available in: Español
A stage is now ready for public urban spaces.
For instance, UN Women launched the Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces report, which enhanced public spaces designs with better lighting and CCTVs to prevent and respond to sexual violence against women. There are more onboard, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on sustainable forestry and the World Health Organization (WHO) on green spaces and health. The World Bank has also committed to enhancing public spaces across cities including Karachi, Chongqing, and Dhaka.
To realize these collective efforts, better measurement tools are vital to follow up with evidence-based approaches. On July 11th, 2018, UN-HABITAT and ISOCARP held a side event during the High-Level Political Forum at the UN, titled “Quantifying the Commons.” While speakers from various organizations including the World Bank presented their works, three key questions were raised regarding our future steps:
Post-disaster assessments changed my life by starting my career in disaster risk management. Three months after arriving in Indonesia as the World Bank’s environment coordinator, the Indian Ocean tsunami and related earthquakes struck Aceh and Nias at the end of 2004. I was asked to pull together the economic evaluation of the disaster’s environmental impact as part of what was then known as a damage-and-loss assessment. Subsequently, the World Bank, United Nations and European Union agreed on a joint approach to crisis response in 2008, including a common methodology for post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA).
Now that we have a decade of experience with this approach, what have we learned and how can we do a better job in the future?
Droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other disasters displaced over 24 million people in 2016. This is crucial, as land and homes are usually the main assets that people have.
Land and geospatial information tells the what, who, where, how much, and other key attributes of a property. Without this information, it is almost impossible for cities and communities to develop proper disaster response or preparedness plans.
– by providing accessible and instant data on disaster impact, the value of losses, the beneficiaries, as well as the levels of appropriate compensation and required investment to restore activities.
While working at the World Bank’s Singapore Infrastructure and Urban Hub, I was fortunate to meet Madam Toh, who, together with her husband, raised their three children in their three-bedroom flat. When asked about her experience living in an HDB neighborhood, her immediate reactions were that it was both “convenient” and “comfortable” – “I can get everything I need within 10 minutes on foot.”
She is now 64 years old and takes a daily 10-minute walk to the metro train station (Mass Rapid Transit, or “MRT”) via a linkway – an activity she likes because the covered footpath seamlessly connects her home and the community’s amenities, making them excellent shelters from the rain or sun for pedestrians.
After exploring several of Singapore’s neighborhoods, I found that they offer “down to earth” examples of livability and showcase excellent integrated urban design qualities.
5D Compact City Framework
by putting in place the Walk2Ride program. This government policy ensures that public linkways are provided from MRT stations (Mass Rapid Transit, or “MRT”) up to a radius of 400m, or ¼ mile, to bus stops, public amenities, and public housing.
“Comfortable” and “walkable” access to public transportation is just one of the many examples that Singapore has done for its neighborhoods, and the total length of Singapore’s covered walkways has now hit 200km!
In order to decrease distance to transit, Singapore encourages people to cycle, which helps resolve the issue of the first and last mile connectivity to public transportation. Many MRT stations and bus interchanges provide multi-level bicycle racks as part of cycling infrastructure to make the city cycle-friendly. In fact, starting July 2016, any new constructions for schools, commercial, retail and business parks (up to a certain scale) must put in place a Walking and Cycling Plan to ensure the public space has adequately incorporated the design that facilitates walkability and cycling.
For the last “D”, let’s explore Singapore’s various elements of urban design that create the city. I think neighborhoods are a key part of Singapore’s vision of being a city in a garden.