ESPON DataBase 2011-2014 « Enlargement of the thematic: cities and neighborouds” (Géographie-cités team)
There is a growing need for urban indicators that would be associated to a variety of city definitions and harmonised from a spatial and a temporal point of view. However, choosing the most appropriate urban data base according to the aim of a study or to a specific approach seems to be more and more complicated for European urban databases. Since a few years, different new urban data bases have been created, using morphological agglomeration delineations, or functional area delineations, or other definition criteria, as Larger Urban Zones (Urban Audit), Urban Morphological Zones (European Environment Agency), Morphological Urban Areas (IGEAT, Belgium), Functional Urban Areas (IGEAT, Belgium), New Larger Urban Zones (Eurostat/DG Regio/Urban Audit). The aim of Geographie-cités team is to enlighten the specificities of each one, by working on the metadata, by evaluating their interoperability and by constructing dictionaries of correspondence in order to facilitate the choice and the use of each of them.
Another research field concerns specifically the functional urban areas and the question of international harmonization. The different FUA databases that have been previously constructed don’t take into account the variability of data, the huge differences between the average LAU2 size per country and the heterogeneity of the settlement contexts. In order to answer this question, we propose to build and compare two types of functional areas in different sample zones. The first consists in observed or empirical FUAs. They are based on a model, a certain representation of the city as a system of relationship based on the logics of polarisation, relying here on polarisation by employment and commuter data. The second type of FUAs consists in “potential” FUAs. They are based on a theoretical model coupled with local transportation networks and accessibility measures. These two approaches integrate inputs (commuting flows, transportation networks…) and parameters (levels of attractivity for commuting, transportation time…).
The last work package concerns urban data in neighbourhood countries of UE. (Southern and Eastern Part). It aims to explore urban data collected by national census boards, by researchers or other institutions and to define in which conditions these data could be used or not.