Detecting informal settlements via topological analysis

Room: Track 2
Academic Track

Sunday, 17:15 UTC
Duration: 20 minutes (plus Q&A)


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  • Satej Soman (Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago )
  • Cooper Nederhoof (Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago )
  • Nicholas Marchio (Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago )
  • Annie Yang (University of Chicago )
  • Anni Beukes (Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago )
  • Luis Bettencourt (Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, University of Chicago)

We outline methods for a) extracting the geometry of street blocks in urban centres using OSM and remote sensing data, b) generating approximate cadastral maps of a block given contained building footprints, and c) quantifying residents’ ability to navigate within blocks through topological analysis of cadastral maps. This topological metric, termed “spatial accessibility” and denoted k = 1, 2, 3, …, determines whether areas of a city are informal settlements, as blocks where k > 2 contain cadastral parcels without direct access to formal road networks. We analysed 1 terabyte of OpenStreetMap data for 120 low and middle income (LMIC) countries.