The future is allowing for many technological advances and opportunities. These advancements are changing the methods and development of cities. A technological advancement that helps the building and is evolving the way we plan cities is geographic informational systems. GIS is a structured collection of data about places, things, and events, which can be used to analyze relationships among them, as well as the tools and procedures for collecting, maintaining, analyzing, visualizing, and distributing those data. Within GIS there is ArcGIS, which is “a comprehensive system that allows people to collect, organize, manage, analyze, communicate, and distribute geographic information.” The design of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, discussed in “Building an Oasis in the Desert,” builds a city that was analyzed with ArcGIS. This vision of Masdar City, to be constructed in Abu Dhabi, will attempt to produce a zero waste, sustainable, and carbon neutral city, as a model for sustainable urban development. This project questions the success and management of a city the advances “the development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable and alternative energy technologies and solutions”. Masdar City is an exemplary city for the future and development of Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy sector and how GIS can be used to design these growing sustainable cities. Essentially, Masdar City will use only renewable energy sources, such as a photovoltaic power plant and solar power. Through innovative design, renewable energy sources, landscaping, and waste-to-energy technologies Masdar City will consume less energy, be carbon-neutral, and sustainable.
ArcGIS helped with the convenience, efficiency, and success of the project. The developers thought of the many layers and factors of a sustainable city, such as considering the geographic data including sun angles, wind patterns, streets widths, and building density and height. They used ArcGIS to model the necessary orientation of the buildings on a diagonal grid to demonstrate natural shading. The ArcGIS was able to use spatial analysis and modeling necessary to access efficient placement of the facilities within the city. Some questions that they addressed included, “is there enough physical space available? How much are the buildings shading each other? How much space is needed between a facility and the residents?” (Gliddon). They were able to use GIS to catch certain placement or operational mistakes, before they were already made or developed. Technology is also helping urban planners due to the Geodatabase that had a single, shared coordinate system, anticipating that the management and operations of the city would rely on this basemap. The data layers in a Geodatabase are extensive, including information regarding transportation, vegetation, drainage, structures, boundaries, elevation, biodiversity, buildings, utilities, terrain elevation, and remotely sensed imagery. The maps and Geodatabase of Masdar City is important to visualize the construction of the city over time, accessing future problems or accessibility problems. “GIS will make facilities maintenance easier and enable the tracking of resource use and reuse and the overall carbon balance of the operational city,” therefore, making fast-paced, high-density development more comprehendible and easier to visualize.
These factors are all vital for the success of this post-petroleum city. Touching upon, Le Corbusier’s vision of a city, Masdar City will be car-free, with multi-story parking lots located outside its city walls. Their means of transport will be a light rail line and a personal rapid transit system. Furthermore, Masdar City, an exemplary sustainable city, wants to attract clean companies and businesses, to create a clean and environmental compassionate mix of residential, retail, and public spaces. Furthermore, the buildings will have solar rooftops to provide energy for the city, and to do so the Master Plan of Masdar states that buildings will all have flat roofs. There are discussions and talks about Masdar City and its full build-out with 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters by 2025. This is wonderful and exciting to be in the time where technology and planners are creating these sustainable cities, changing the way we see the environment and our inefficient use of energy.
The use of ArcGIS is helping societies develop and plan for sustainable futures. GIS had a large impact on the construction of Masdar City. They put Geomatics to good use by promoting the health and growth of sustainable cities. Even to the building material placement they were able to use ArcGIS in practice and choose the most efficient location to limit transportation pollution. This is making complex development processes easier to visualize and making carbon neutrality accessible. Both the progress and sustainability of upcoming cities is important for the overall health and success of our societies. With the larger populations and complex cities, tracking the life cycles and development is vital. ArcGIS made problem spotting and efficiency more feasible because it limits the massive, unorganized, unreadable data that can accumulate in the production of a city. The ability to use the Geodatabase throughout a city’s life cycle is meaningful and the ability to ensuring energy use of the city is maintained and tracked efficiently is also an important development. Their designing and managing of the city was made possible by the flexibility and many data layers within the Geodatabase. Their data and maps were able to track and update the city to ensure that it continues to work efficiently and accommodate to the ever-changing societies.