Friday, December 11, 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Research Hall, Third Floor

Challenges and Opportunities of Mapping and Modeling Slums in a Digital Big Data Era

Andrew Crooks, Associate Professor
Computational Social Science Program
Department of Computational and Data Sciences
George Mason University

ABSTRACT: Over one billion people currently live in slums with populations worldwide increasing. This number is only expected to grow in the coming decades. The vast majority of slums are located in and around urban centers in the less developed world, which is also seeing greater rates of urbanization compared to more developed countries. This rapid rate of urbanization in less developed countries is cause for serious concern given that many of these countries often lack the ability to provide the infrastructure (e.g. roads and affordable housing) and basic amenities (e.g. water and sanitation) to adequately provide for the increasing number of people. While research on slums has been ongoing, such research has mainly focused on one of three constructs: studies exploring the socio-economic and policy issues; studies exploring the physical characteristics and lastly, those modeling slums. Within this paper we review these lines of research and argue that while each is valuable, there is need for a more holistic approach for studying slums to truly understand them. By synthesizing the social and physical constructs this paper provides a more holistic synthesis of the problem, which can potentially lead to a greater understanding and consequently, better approaches for tackling the challenge of slums at local, national and regional scales.