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Defining urban areas and modelling urban area data


25 March 2021 (17.00 to 18.00 Central European Time)


This coffee talk featured the following presentations, followed by an open discussion. A recording is available here


1) Applying the degree of urbanisation by Lewis Dijkstra, DG-REGIO, with Comments from Deborah Balk, Institute for Demographic Research, City University of New York

The UN endorsed the Degree of Urbanisation to facilitate international comparisons of cities, towns and rural areas. The first presentation will describe its main principles and explain its methodological benefits. It will also show how this harmonised population distribution by Degree of Urbanisation compares to national definitions. In conclusion, it will describe the next steps needed to help all countries in the world to apply this definition.

2) Technical application of DEGURBA to Colombia by Thomas Kemper and Marcello Schiavina, JRC, Ispra

The Degree of Urbanisation is a method to delineate urban and rural areas for international statistical comparison. It relies on geospatial data that are generally available in National Statistical Offices and can be implemented with open and free data and tools. This work presents the application of the Degree of Urbanisation method to the 2018 edition of the Census of Colombia by using tools produced in the framework of the Global Human Settlement Layer of the European Commission Directorate General Joint Research Centre. The Degree of Urbanisation is applied in a two-stage process to an equal-area-projected population grid, produced from the census data and the 2018 GHS-BUILT Sentinel 2 built-up surface layer, and census polygons. First grid cells are classified based on population size and density criteria, then small local units are classified into cities, towns and semi-dense areas, and rural areas. The completeness and open data policy of the 2018 census of Colombia allows to classify small territorial units, and to disaggregate six demographic and housing variables by Degree of Urbanisation. These include sex ratio and access to services and infrastructure like connectivity to internet and access to electricity among others.


For more information about other coffee talks in this series, please see: this page.


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