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Using spatial cloud computing to build livable cities

Source(s):  Asian Development Bank (ADB)

By Bhuwneshwar Prasad Sah and Ries Kluskens


Asia and the Pacific is home to two-thirds of the world’s poor and considered as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. Majority of the population will be living in cities as the years progress, making it imperative for the region’s cities to become climate-resilient and livable.

Damage from floods alone is expected to worsen. According to the 2017 report, A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific(link is external)13 of the 20 cities with the largest growth in annual losses because of inundation (from 2005–2050) are in the region. These include Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhanjiang, and Xiamen (People’s Republic of China); Mumbai, Chennai-Madras, Surat, and Kolkata (India); Ho Chi Minh City (Viet Nam); Jakarta (Indonesia); Bangkok (Thailand); and Nagoya (Japan).

The use of an accessible, up-to-date platform showcasing different climate change scenarios along with topography, land use, socioeconomic, and infrastructure data sets can help improve and support the preparation, planning, implementation, and monitoring of urban resilience projects in the region, leading to livable cities.  

The Asian Development Bank, in collaboration with Royal HaskoningDHV, is developing such a platform under the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (also called the Urban Resilience Fund).

What is SPADE?

The Spatial Data Analysis Explorer or SPADE(link is external) is a web-based platform using open-source technology hosted on a centralized cloud-based server that contains various geospatial data that can be utilized for consultation, project preparation, production of maps, and analysis of climate change impacts.

This technology aims to support the preparation of climate risk, vulnerability, and urban system assessments that can inform the development of regional and urban master plans and strategies, as well as identify opportunities to enhance the performance of infrastructure investments.

SPADE also reinforces the thrust of the Urban Resilience Fund, which is to support medium-sized, fast-growing cities to better plan and design infrastructure using urban resilience principles and scale up investments against disasters and other climate impacts. The goal is to make climate change a central element of city planning.  

Currently, the SPADE pilot is focused on five cities in two countries: Bagerhat and Patuakhali (Bangladesh), and Ha Giang, Hue, and Vinh Yen (Viet Nam).

How it Works

Baseline data is gathered from different sources, such as earth observation and meteorological satellite data, hydrometeorological data, and climate change simulations from the Data Integration and Analysis System hosted by the University of Tokyo. Socioeconomic data are also collected through field surveys and a mobile application for data collection made by the Asian Institute of Technology. In the case of Viet Nam, the field surveys also included noting historical flood damages to buildings.

All these data are integrated and standardized into one database in a scalable cloud-based system hosted by Amazon Web Services. The data becomes user-friendly and dynamic through a specially designed website that is accessible on both desktops and mobile phones. There are several functions like the ability to rearrange data layers, download maps, and conduct simple but powerful spatial analysis.   

Why is it Necessary?

With SPADE, previously unwieldy and scattered data become accessible and relevant information for governments, as well as project officers and other partners. Through SPADE they can make informed and strategic decisions on project design and investments that consider climate hazards and resilience across urban systems and multiple sectors. Data from the platform can be utilized as climate assessments, urban assessments, disaster mapping, and the like.

Overall, SPADE can help the region’s cities become more prepared and resilient against climate change impacts, raising quality of life for all.

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  • Publication date 06 Jul 2018

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