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Urban planners want to eliminate slums – with computer programs | science



Cities around the world are exploding in size. About 4 billion people – more than half of the world's population – now live in urban areas, and by 2050, 6.4 billion people are expected to live there. The problem with such rapid growth is that when cities become too crowded or too expensive, they are forced to settle in slums that have no access to water, sanitation, emergency services, and hospitals. Now scientists have found a way to redesign these underserved areas by using a computer program that uses a mathematical approach to urban planning.

The new topology calls the access of residents to vital roads and urban services spatial network. Places ̵

1; such as buildings and open spaces – represent the nodes of the network, and roads and paths represent the network connections. By developing an algorithm to model these access networks, researchers were able to identify where new roads are needed to maximize access and minimize disruption to existing residents, the team reports today in Science Advances

The Researchers tested their approach in two slums – one in Cape Town, South Africa, and one in Mumbai, India. There, they worked with locals to collect data, run the algorithm, and decide based on the data where they wanted their new roads. Then they sent their proposals to government officials.

Since the new topological approach does not depend on the lattice-like geometry of most urban layouts, it can be used to analyze neighborhoods in almost any urban area – from Las Vegas, Nevada to Harare. Scientists hope that their research will help city officials work with local communities to eliminate existing slums and prevent the creation of new slums.


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