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April 2017

Mapping and measuring urban places: Are we there yet? (Part 1/2)

David Mason's picture
Source: Deuskar, C., and Stewart B.. 2016. “Measuring global urbanization using a standard definition of urban areas: Analysis of preliminary results” World Bank
This satellite image shows Sao Paolo's estimated “urban areas” based on a WorldPop gridded population layer. Areas in yellow are areas with at least 300 people per km2 and a known settlement size of 5,000 people. Red areas represent a population density threshold of at least 1,500 people per km2 and a known settlement size of 50,000 people.
There remains a surprising amount of disagreement over precisely what “urban” means despite the ubiquity of the term in our work. Are urban areas defined by a certain amount of artificial land cover such as permanent buildings and roads? Or are they more accurately described as spatially concentrated populations? The answer often depends on what country you are in, as their administrative definitions of urban areas can vary widely across and between these two dimensions.
 
Without a globally consistent measure of urban areas, it can be difficult to track changes in built-up areas (land surface coverage comprised of buildings and roads) and population growth across time and space. This impacts how policymakers may understand and prioritize the challenges cities face and what investments or reforms may be needed. In a new paper, “Bright Lights, Big Cities: a Review of Research and Findings on Global Urban Expansion,” I provide a brief introduction to some of the current approaches for measuring urban expansion and review the comparative findings of some recent studies.
The UN’s World Urbanization Prospects (WUP), perhaps the most comprehensive and widely cited measure of urbanization across the world, draws from a compilation of country-level population totals based on administrative definitions. A key weakness with this set is that since each country defines “urban” differently, it is difficult to accurately compare one country’s urbanization to another, as well as to estimate the urban population of a group of countries or the world itself. Recent work has provided more sophisticated ways to measure urban growth and expansion using both satellite map data and careful application of population data.

The ECA Region is Falling Behind in Digital Trade in Services

Shawn W. Tan's picture

International trade is a major driver of economic growth and digital technology can accelerate this process. The Internet greatly expands firms’ potential to produce new goods and services and serve new markets. In particular, the Internet is having a dramatic impact on services, especially in retail, financial and professional services sectors. Firms in these sectors can create new digital products such as music, videos and books, and digitize their services as well as deliver them over long distances. This ability has led to a remarkable global expansion of digital trade in business, professional and technical services.

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 4 - What can you measure with cellphone metadata?

Andrew Whitby's picture

Globally, there are over 98 mobile subscriptions per 100 people, so the chances are, you have a cell phone. Now look at your recent calls, both sent and received: Who do you call most often? Who calls you the most? Do you send, or receive more calls? All this is cell phone metadata: not the content of the calls, but ancillary information, the “who, where and when”.

It’s information that can reveal a lot about you. Your cellphone carrier already uses it to bill you, and may also be using it to target marketing or special offers at you. And with appropriate privacy protections, it can offer researchers a similar opportunity. In this week’s episode of Between 2 Geeks we ask how cellphone metadata (“call detail records”) can help researchers understand entire societies.

The next frontier for social safety nets

Michal Rutkowski's picture
There has been a doubling in the number of developing countries that provide social safety programs to their citizens. What is causing this shift? Photo: Mohammad Al-Arief/World Bank

Social safety nets – predictable cash grants to poor households often in exchange for children going to school or going for regular health check-ups – have become one of the most effective poverty reduction strategies, helping the poor and vulnerable cope with crises and shocks.  Each year, safety net programs in developing countries lift an estimated 69 million people living in absolute poverty and uplifting some 97 million people from the bottom 20 percent – a substantial contribution in the global fight against poverty.

Financing Economic Growth in LDCs: A Tale of National Savings and Natural Resources

Simon Davies's picture


This blog is part of a series using data from World Development Indicators to explore progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and their associated targets. The new Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2017, published in April 2017, and the SDG Dashboard provide in-depth analyses of all 17 goals.

Investing today is important for economic growth tomorrow: working hard today to build more and better schools, clinics, roads, bridges, parks, factories, offices, houses and other infrastructure will improve both economic output and living standards in the future. Investing sustainably is especially crucial for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) if they are to achieve the 7 percent growth target (8.1) set by the 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Yet investing for the future means saving more and consuming less today. For every worker building roads and factories that will be used tomorrow, there is one fewer worker producing goods and goodies to be consumed today. For every dollar a family saves, that is one fewer bottle of coke or bag of rice to be consumed today.

Building up assets…

Between 2001 and 2015, LDCs invested an average of 22 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI), while the global average was 23 percent and the OECD average 21 percent. This translates to between a fifth and a quarter of today’s production being invested for the future, rather than being consumed now.

Much LDC investment is self-financed. Over the same period, domestic savings in LDCs averaged over 16 percent of GNI. This is lower than the global savings rate (of 25 percent of GNI) but this is to be expected as capital and investment flows in from wealthier countries. It gives LDCs the chance to increase their capital stock while keeping a reasonable degree of consumption.

Innovation festival provides fresh ideas on how to use vital funds in Indonesian villages

Hera Diani's picture



One recent scorching afternoon, a display of colorful squat toilets welcomed curious visitors in the main park of the city of Mataram, in Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province.
 
These visitors were not looking to buy new toilet bowls, nor were they working on home improvement projects. They were among 350 villagers who went ‘shopping’ for ideas and innovations to improve basic services and infrastructure in their home villages.
 
The 2017 Village Innovation Festival was organized by the provincial government of West Nusa Tenggara, in collaboration with the Ministry of Village's Generasi Cerdas dan Sehat Program.The festival highlighted innovative solutions to address some of the most pressing development challenges faced by village communities.

To farm, or Not to farm? Changing the youth’s mindset is the answer

Mercy Melody Kayodi's picture



Let me answer it this way: If you are a youth, you are damned if you farm, and you will be equally damned if you don’t. Farming as an option is very key to enabling the continuous production of food to meet our consumption demand. We are in an era where we have to attract the young people to join food production, since majority of them think it is dirty work. Interacting with young farmers has only left me understanding that, besides the lack of mechanisation, we lack the best farming practices that would otherwise increase our earnings.

Why introducing school agricultural clubs could turn farming into the coolest thing ever

Joseph Kyanjo Lule's picture



Getting more youth to engage productively in agriculture is not, and won’t be, an easy job. As an aspiring goat farmer and student in agribusiness management, I know that it takes real passion and commitment to make a living from agriculture. I am currently rearing 40 free range goats on a small farm in my village. On average, I spend about Uganda Sh30,000 to rear each goat—which I normally sell off during the Christmas season at Shs 200,000. This year, I intend to use the money to expand the business, and invest in high value crops to take advantage of the free manure from the goats.

Why am I excited to go to the Digital Youth Summit?

Todd Jensen's picture
dys
Learn, register, and check out the schedule for the Digital Youth Summit. 

First, I’m just very excited to meet everyone there! I’m eager to learn and share. 

Second, Peshawar! The oldest city in Pakistan! So much history! 

Third, and most importantly, I’m looking forward to being part of a great movement. Let me explain. 

Private equity firm JAB just bought Panera (a bakery, sandwich, and salad chain) for $7.5 billion. Yes, that’s billions of dollars. Nvidia (a graphic and mobile computing company) had a stock price of around $14 a share in 2012. Today, shares are worth $100 and it has a market valuation of $57.8 billion. What do these two very different companies, operating in completely separate markets, have to do with each other?  

Future focused innovation. 

Many people think that all innovation is future focused. Innovation within a company is a function of its strategic direction. If the company is simply about reducing costs and maintaining it’s market share, then innovation tends to be about present operations and marketing. It’s about efficiency or managing growth. Panera and Nvidia are different. 

Early on Panera perceived a shift in casual diners patience for waiting. Consumers in big cities want good food without the wait … so, in 2014 they started deploying digital technologies to cut waiting times and allowed advanced orders. Many other restaurants are now trying to follow their lead, a couple of years too late. Yes, Panera has quality food and good locations and from that, their trajectory of growth was good. But they wanted to be decisively better than their competition. They needed to get to capabilities no company had. They needed to get innovative with digital in order to deliver their great food. They are decisively winning now. 

In 2016 Nvidia introduced the worlds fastest processing unit for automobile AI. They are also dominant in virtual reality hardware. Years ago, when Nvidia had to start building for the future, there wasn’t clear and present demand for high powered computing on mobile, virtual reality, and self-driving automotive platforms. But they made the decision to innovate for the future and now, they own it. 

Why am I excited to go to DYS 2017? Because it’s very likely that someone in attendance will create a disruptive service or technology. You will build a company around it or sell it and use the proceeds to create 10 more services or technologies. I can’t wait to see all the ideas and energy around improving the future! 


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