On a weekday at 7:30 am, the traffic snarl starts a few kilometres from the town. With that much traffic so early in the day, our driver groans and warns me that it might take more than two hours to clear. He makes the decision to use the access roads that would finally bring us to the town. I am in no rush, and I get excited about the chance to explore the city in a gorgeous van with loud decorations and even louder music.
There is a huge change in the city. Tall commercial structures stand in regions that were formerly reserved for residential houses. There is a physical need for drainage systems because most of these places and the edges of most residential estates have open drainage systems and garbage that looks like it has been left behind. A few shanties have outcropped near the highway and adjacent to the business zones. Most heartbreaking of all is the obvious absence of trees and green spaces. It was catastrophic to add to the traffic gridlock we had previously escaped. I complain to the driver, and in response, he says that it becomes worse when it rains.
The social economy is experiencing steady expansion in this century, producing a demand for urban planning. Urban planning involves land use and land cover planning, environmental planning, transportation planning, zoning, and economic development planning. Although distinct to each urban centre, challenges connected to urbanisation range from land-use conflict and destruction of natural ecosystems and the environment, to traffic and vehicular congestion that are more likely to cause harmful conditions on our roads.
In the 21st century, the city’s social economy will continue to develop significantly. Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. It is anticipated that more than 68% of the world’s urban population will be living in urban centres by 2050. Africa as a continent has the most urbanisation in the world. Society’s need for the development and management of urban planning is increasing. To fully and reasonably use city spatial information, provide information services for urban planning management and decision-making, raise the management level of urban planning administration departments, and encourage the modernization of urban management, we need to build an urban planning management information system that uses the latest technology to manage and make decisions about urban planning.
Urban planning is one of the most important tasks of the local authorities at any given level to ensure the proper use of available land, thereby supporting sustainable development. Like many other rapidly growing cities, urban planners are having a difficult time limiting the types of developments that are coming up each day, owing to an inability to access all of the necessary information about the area. This inadequacy contributes to a myriad of challenges. Poor land policies are a result of poor government preparedness for the ever-increasing population and societal demands. At the same time, land tenure conflicts are apparent owing to people occupying land that they do not lawfully own.
Existing infrastructure becomes strained for both amenities and utilities due to limited resources and an ever-increasing population. As a result of new immigration to metropolitan areas, poor housing facilities and amenities are inevitable for those who cannot afford quality housing. This also leads to a high crime rate and social problems in addition to the indiscriminate land encroachment on road reserves and riparian reserves.
With the urbanisation rate growing, there is a need for urban planning information to be easily accessible to aid in the decision-making of these developments. GIS is increasingly being used in planning agencies. It offers features for data gathering, data storage, data analysis, data transformation, data accessibility, and query operations. An increase in its user-friendliness has enabled its integration and assimilation into many urban planning firms. GIS is now an operational and inexpensive information system for planning. The main limits on the use of GIS in urban planning are the availability of data, organisational transformation, and manpower.
An urban planning information system is a fantastic asset to any county government or urban planning department. With the urgency it warrants, county spatial plans should prioritise the easy access and dissemination of data for urban planning. The ability to offer this information on the internet and do spatial analysis is a big advantage in assuring a trustworthy, efficient, time-saving, and cost-saving urban planning process. A one-stop shop for all information and data on urban planning is vital for promoting green cities and sustainable development. Further developments can also be concentrated on monitoring and mapping urban development and anticipating its impacts on the environment and social-economic aspects of society.
While the local governments are slowly adopting the use of GIS in spatial planning, as seen in the accessible green areas currently available in towns, among other initiatives, there is still a long way to go in ensuring sustainable and environmentally friendly communities.