Geospatial sensing systems are unconsciously steering the development of our cities. The ETH Zürich proposes a new concept to harness these sensing systems to support urban transformation towards sustainability.
Recent years have seen a massive development of sensors, from Earth Observation and geospatial mobile big data to sensing systems allowing to capture and monitor human presence, action and even intention. While these sensing systems promise many new opportunities to drive urban transformation towards sustainability, they are forecasted to escalate data-driven decision-making.
Drawing on four global urban case examples, we conceptualized the interactions between various types of sensing systems and highlighted their risks and benefits for stakeholders. The proposed iterative loop between passive and active sensing will need to be complemented by open accessibility to data and an active participation of data users in the choice of data products and related sensors. Information flow from active and passive sensing will need to be carefully coupled with existing urban planning and other decision-making processes in order to foster new understandings of choices, which can be made by citizens, planners and corporate stakeholders to facilitate transformations toward urban sustainability.