The Evolution of Cities

At the beginning of the 21st Century, smart cities, information, and big data are becoming increasingly critical for the success of urban development. Typically,  smart city initiatives focus on real-time information and future innovations. Three urban researchers took a different approach. They applied big data to the historic evolution of cities since the neolithic revolution 6,000 years ago.  Meredith Reba, Femke Reitsma, and Karen C. Seto, from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the Department of Geography at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, recorded, analyzed and visualized global, city level population data. The outstanding result is an improved understanding of long-term, historical, and contemporary urbanization trends and patterns.

This animated map illustrates the evolution of cities from the neolithic revolution to today. Source: Reba M, Reitsma F, Seto KC, 2016.  Spatializing 6,000 years of global urbanization from 3700 BC to AD 2000.