1.000 km

Biblio (112) World Urbanization Prospect 2014

biblio112-world urbanization prospect

The United Nations publish every two years a report on the degree of urbanization of the planet, which also includes the urban- rural population share and the evolution of the size of cities by ranks.

This edition quantifies the trend that has already been verified in recent years to a strong growth of megacities in the global south, but it also confirms that the cities under 500.000 are still extremely relevant, housing almost half the current world’s urban population, and are set to still weight around 45% in 2030.

Maps 2014 (43) The Roman world


Stanford Universtiy has developed a geospatial model of the Roman world, Orbis, which can be consulted as a web map. In technical terms it is a geographical information system in which you can consult, using current standards of transportation planning, the least costly, the shortest or the fastest route between two points of the empire taking into account what was available in those ancient times. The methodological explanation of the GIS is interesting. I can not judge to which extent the results are close to what was real, but at least they seem consistent.

I’ve tested the fastest route from Flavium Brigantium to Lutetia: 17,2 days in summer, some 50 in winter, mainly by boat. I’ll never complain about two days by car…

Maps 2014 (42) Urban Decay in the US

This map was produced in 2011 by Derek Watkins, graphic editor for the New York Times, whose portfolio is full of extremely attractive references (including details on the tools used to produce these gorgeous images). This map was generated by looking on Flickr for geotagged images with urban decay tags. It is noteworthy that the number of images in some cities si quite reduced. In fact, this is not a map of a phenomenon, but of its perception by a group of people whose definition is complex (photographers aware of the special aesthetics of ruins prone to share their images on flickr?). Gorgeous map, anyway, and it seems quite related when it comes to results with other data about this subject.



Yesterday I saw the end of the film « Tracks » (2013), which renders the story of the 1.700 miles trip that Robyn Davidson made from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean (Australia) in 1977. The plot describes how the teenager prepares for a solitary trip, along four camels and a bitch, and the travel experience in the desert; there are some parallels with castaway stories, as “Life of Pi”, and in visual terms the film is a treat.

What interested me is a detail. Due to the way in which the story develops, there are many farewells. But the most relevant are not those in which someone gets on a vehicle to go away, but those in which the character simply walks away normally. Some minutes later I saw some minutes of “Jane Eyre” (recent version, same actress). And again the same situation; the character alone under the rain in the middle of an English moor, just walking. As when in the Bible there are descriptions of the distance by foot between villages. Some days ago I also saw a part of a Polish film, “Aftermath” (2012); it Is about a horrible story (a 1941 pogrom as seen from 2001), but the interesting thing in this context is the way in which the two peasant brothers (one freshly arrived from Chicago, where he lives) move by walking most of the time, sometimes over long distances.

From a “simple” point of view, these stories would be impossible in such a country as the United States, land of the car, with cities without sidewalks (I say simple as reality is probably more complex, and not only there)…  but there is more to be said when it comes to shoes…

Maps 2014 (38) Where the internet sleeps


John Heideman’s team at the University of California has drawn a map; in fact the study is called “when the internet sleeps”, but as the world is divided in time zones, the map is a good way to render the results. It is an animation showing the answers of an extraordinarily large amount of IP addresses to a ping testing whether they are on or not every 11 minutes for 35 days in 2013. The map shows that during the nights the computers in Europe, Japan, South Korea and  the USA (along with phones and other net-connected devices) are often always on, or at least much more often than in other countries with lower revenue. The reasons are being studied, and the text and graphs of the original website provide more information.


Biblio (102) Visions and scenarios for the European territory in 2050



ESPON’s team has prepared a report edited by Andreu Ulied which summarizes the main messages from the ET 2050 ESPON project. This is a new iteration of the attempts to define a territorial vision for the continent set to deliver a more sustainable development and a more efficient way to address crisis through territorial governance. The polycentric vision is, as usual, one of the basic elements. There are interesting ideas in the report, but I’m afraid that their full use can only come if we Europeans find a way to get a better government scheme for the Union.

Maps 2014 (22) Swiss rural space

The division proposed by this map produced by ARE (the Swiss Federal Office for Territorial Development) is thought- provoking: the national territory is divided in cities and metro areas, tourism areas in the Alps, rural areas around cities (taking into account integration in public transit networks) and peripheral rural areas (in which population is relevant).

Maps 2014 (20) Mapping Europe

The International College for Territory Sciences (CIST) is an institution established by Paris 1 and Paris- Diderot Universities and the French National Scientific Research Council (CNRS). As European Election Day has come (it is just today, so if you are in Europe and can vote, this could be a good moment to go…) the College has published a set of quite schematic maps on the European context. Even some elements are reduced to graphs, as the image portrayed here, but this reduces by no mean their interest.

The right to difference exists in this Europe… Google has published today a ballot box in its Spain, France, Germany and Italy versions, but… nothing to declare in its UK version (sure, they voted during the week, but results are today…).

Maps 2014 (19) Empty Europe

teselas pobladas EURO 2006

Populated celles. They have not been aggregated, so the overall black color corresponds mostly to the adjacent limits.

This is not, as I often do, a map that has been done by someone else, but rather raw data from Eurostat that I have represented. Some months ago I commented on a project concerning a population grid, 1 km wide, covering the whole of Europe, as to give a better vision on some issues, as population, whose rendering following administrative basis was far from good.

So, there I went to the Eurostat specific site ((http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/gisco_Geographical_information_maps/popups/references/population_distribution_demography) to download the GEOSTAT 1 km2 population grid, with associated 2006 population data. The density map is somehow known as we know the main cities and axis, but what is less known is the map of the void spots (in fact, Eurostat does not produce a polygon for those 1 sq m cells without residents). As often for European data, there are countries out of the Union (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland) that are represented, while others (Cyprus) are not there).

The available cells (the populated ones, almost 2 million) help get the voids by exclusion; at first glance you can see substantial void areas in Spain, the Alps, the Charpatians, parts of Greece and the Scottish and Scandinavian mountains.

But it is far more interesting to better portray the empty areas.

Green cells have no population. So much more void...

Green cells have no population. So much more void… but there is a need to cultivate and to produce the environmental services needed by the population.

European choices (5) Pollution

Each dot is an EPRTR spot.

Each dot is an E-PRTR spot.

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) is a register managed by the European Environmental Agency that has data on industrial compounds emitting pollutants beyond the thresholds established in Regulation (EC) No 166/2006. It encompasses a wide array of factories, from urban waste water treatment to surface treatments to slaughterhouses.

As ever with European policies, there can be states with more stringent environmental quality laws, but Europe defines both a common framework and, as relevant as that for spatial planning, common databases that cover the whole of the Union (and often external countries as Norway and Switzerland), so allowing a better knowledge and debate.