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South Africa

How geospatial technology can help cities plan for a sustainable future

Xueman Wang's picture
In this video, representatives from the World Bank, GEF, and City of Johannesburg discuss the impact of geospatial tools on urban planning.

Many urban residents these days will find it hard to imagine a life without mobile apps that help us locate a restaurant, hail a cab, or find a subway station—usually in a matter of seconds. If geospatial technology and data already make our everyday lives this easier, imagine what they can do for our cities: for example, geospatial data on land-use change and built-up land expansion can provide for more responsive urban planning, while information on traffic conditions, road networks, and solid waste sites can help optimize management and enhance the quality of urban living.

The “urban geo-data gap”
 
However, information and data that provide the latest big picture on urban land and services often fail to keep up with rapid population growth and land expansion. This is especially the case for cities in developing countries—home to the fastest growing urban and vulnerable populations.

What if…we could help cities more effectively plan a lower-carbon future?

Stephen Hammer's picture
Visit worldbank.org/curb

If climate change were a jigsaw puzzle, cities would be a key piece right at the center of it. This was reinforced by more than 100 countries worldwide, which highlighted cities as a critical element of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction strategies in their national climate plans (aka INDCs) submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015.

Since the ensuing signing of the Paris Agreement, these countries have shifted gear to focus on turning their climate plans into actions. What if, as many of us may wonder, we could find a cost-effective and efficient way to help put cities—in developing and developed countries alike—onto a low-carbon path of growth?

CURB: Climate Action for Urban Sustainability, launched this Climate Week, is an attempt to do just that. A free, data-driven scenario planning tool, CURB can readily help cities identify and prioritize climate actions to reduce carbon emissions, improve overall efficiency, and boost jobs and livelihoods.

A joint vision for effective city planning

What CURB can do for cities owes very much to the inspiration and stories we have taken from them in developing the tool. It was a fortuitous few hours in early 2014 at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa that really got the ball rolling on the development of CURB.

Joburg's Transit Breakthrough

News story by Gail Jennings, Johannesburg

Informal ‘jitney’ associations transcend their warload past to become shareholders in South Africa’s first-ever Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system

JOHANNESBURG – Waiting, waiting, without facilities, still waiting, crammed, hemmed in, no brakes, no license, angry club-wielding drivers fighting for the most lucrative routes.  Weaving haphazardly through traffic at often frightening speeds. .. Scrabbling for the right coins, late, confusion, music that leaves your ears ringing, fists, bullets, escape... The stories travellers tell of their minibus taxi adventures.

Bus Rapit Transit in JohannesburgThis sort of  informal, unscheduled and unregulated taxi system still exists in most of Johannesburg.

But the 25km link between the central business district and Soweto with its 1.4 million residents is now plied by sleek red buses travelling on time and on schedule. Three years ago, the government launched Rea Vaya (“we are going”), South Africa’s first bus rapid transit system (BRT).  Rea Vaya has replaced the ramshackle minibuses with modern vehicles and an entirely different, formal operating system.