Creutzig, F., Lohrey, S., Bai, X., Baklanov, A., Dawson, R., Dhakal, S., Lamb, W. F., McPhearson, T., Minx, J., Munoz, E., Walsh, B.

Upscaling urban data science for global climate solutions

in Global Sustainability, 18.01.2019

Peer Review , Land Use, Infrastructure and Transport , Applied Sustainability Sciences

Non-technical summary. Manhattan, Berlin and New Delhi all need to take action to adapt to
climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While case studies on these cities
provide valuable insights, comparability and scalability remain sidelined. It is therefore timely
to review the state-of-the-art in data infrastructures, including earth observations, social media
data, and how they could be better integrated to advance climate change science in cities and
urban areas. We present three routes for expanding knowledge on global urban areas: mainstreaming
data collections, amplifying the use of big data and taking further advantage of
computational methods to analyse qualitative data to gain new insights. These data-based
approaches have the potential to upscale urban climate solutions and effect change at the
global scale.
Technical summary. Cities have an increasingly integral role in addressing climate change. To
gain a common understanding of solutions, we require adequate and representative data of
urban areas, including data on related greenhouse gas emissions, climate threats and of
socio-economic contexts. Here, we review the current state of urban data science in the context
of climate change, investigating the contribution of urban metabolism studies, remote
sensing, big data approaches, urban economics, urban climate and weather studies.We outline
three routes for upscaling urban data science for global climate solutions: 1) Mainstreaming
and harmonizing data collection in cities worldwide; 2) Exploiting big data and machine
learning to scale solutions while maintaining privacy; 3) Applying computational techniques
and data science methods to analyse published qualitative information for the systematization
and understanding of first-order climate effects and solutions. Collaborative efforts towards a
joint data platform and integrated urban services would provide the quantitative foundations
of the emerging global urban sustainability science.