Geospatial World

Cities, Accumulated Risk, and GIS

Around 600 cities in the world generate half of the world’s GDP and have a combined population of about 1.7 billion. Most of these 600 cities are either coastal cities or on the bank of the river which make them highly vulnerable for flooding.

Christopher Morley once said “All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All the cities are beautiful, but the beauty is grim”.

Morley could be and -in some case- is true in defining the beauty of the modern cities. But I wonder what Christopher Morley would have said if he had been provided time machine to go back in time and pay a visit to ancient cities.

My view is that he would have debated about which city in the world hasnt seen war, famine, floods, conflict or revolutions?… Which in ancient, medieval and modern time has seen unsustainable situations and which among them were able to withstand the wrath of time. He would also say that cities like Varanasi in India, Beijing in China, Paris in France have seen it all but still survived to tell the tales. He would have sat with City (if it was a living phenomenon), and discussed with it the stories of various settlement, politics, disasters, war and celebrations of various races, groups, tribes that got into the metropolis.

The modern world is as vulnerable to shocks as it is connected. These shocks will have impact both at local and regional level. Most of the nation-state or city councils do anticipate these kind of scenarios but most fail to stop catastrophic event from happening.

It should also be noted that we can’t stop event from happening but we can lessen the losses, so that we can build back quickly and better. This aspect of bouncing back quickly could be learnt from Japanese and Chilean government in handling earthquake-related disaster. What these countries have established is a full life cycle of disaster management; from identifying risk to build back better.

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