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Developing a temporal database of urban development for the Baltimore/Washington region

January 1, 1996

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the U.S. Bureau of the Census are working together as a multiagency, multidisciplinary team in developing a temporal database that documents the growth of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan region. This database consists of urban development, principal transportation, shoreline, and population density change. The urban development theme, considered a primary data layer in the study of urban land transformation resulting from human impact on the land, is the focus of this paper.

The Baltimore-Washington Spatial Dynamics and Human Impacts Study builds on earlier research efforts that mapped urban land use change for the San Francisco Bay area (Acevedo and Bell, 1994; Bell and others, 1995; Kirtland and others, 1994). In developing a temporal database (Acevedo and others, in press), the team participants hope to provide data that can be used to study patterns of urban growth; assess ecological, environmental, and climatic impacts of urban change; and model and predict future urbanization patterns and impacts (Clarke and others, 1996). Both the San Francisco and Baltimore-Washington regions were selected because of the rapid urban growth and resulting impacts on their ecosystems. The Chesapeake Bay region in particular has undergone extensive environmental agitation due to the hydrologic problems that have arisen from the increase in impermeable surfaces and structures, that is buildings and pavement that physically cover the soil. Because of the inability of water to percolate into the ground, little purification occurs by filtration. Water runs over paved surfaces and quickly washes high levels of toxins directly into the water system. Toxins like gasoline, oil, and fertilizer have dramatically affected the local streams, rivers, and the bay.

ABSTRACT

The U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Maryland Baltimore County,

and the U.S. Bureau of the Census are developing a temporal database to

study urban development in the Baltimore-Washington region. The primary

data layer, the extent of urban or built-up areas, was compiled using a

geographic information system and historical maps, remotely sensed data,

digital land use data, and census information from a variety of sources.

Urban land use change has been documented by the Baltimore-Washington

Spatial Dynamics & Human Impact Study Team for the last 200 years. The

methods, definitions, and collection criteria used to define urban or

built-up areas were developed by a multi-disciplinary team that also

ensures consistency in collection techniques and documentation methods

for subsequent application in other regions. Animation techniques were

used to visualize the database and to document the evolution of the

region's urban landscape. The database is an important tool to urban and

regional planners, ecologists, and global change researchers for measuring

trends in urban sprawl, analyzing patterns of water pollution,

understanding the impacts of development on ecosystems, and developing

predictive modeling techniques to better forecast areas of urban growth.

This paper describes the techniques used to map the extent of urban areas for Phase I and does not discuss Phase II in detail because the work is still in progress. In this study, urban development is defined as areas of intensive use, with much of the land covered by structures. The built-up areas are characterized by the existence of a systematic street pattern, and the relative concentration of buildings and associated intensive use areas, such as parking lots. Using this definition, urban development does not refer to political boundaries and may include incorporated or unincorporated areas as well as military reservations.

ABSTRACT

The U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Maryland Baltimore County,

and the U.S. Bureau of the Census are developing a temporal database to

study urban development in the Baltimore-Washington region. The primary

data layer, the extent of urban or built-up areas, was compiled using a

geographic information system and historical maps, remotely sensed data,

digital land use data, and census information from a variety of sources.

Urban land use change has been documented by the Baltimore-Washington

Spatial Dynamics & Human Impact Study Team for the last 200 years. The

methods, definitions, and collection criteria used to define urban or

built-up areas were developed by a multi-disciplinary team that also

ensures consistency in collection techniques and documentation methods

for subsequent application in other regions. Animation techniques were

used to visualize the database and to document the evolution of the

region's urban landscape. The database is an important tool to urban and

regional planners, ecologists, and global change researchers for measuring

trends in urban sprawl, analyzing patterns of water pollution,

understanding the impacts of development on ecosystems, and developing

predictive modeling techniques to better forecast areas of urban growth.

To build the urban component of the temporal database, a multidisciplinary team was assembled and a phased approach initiated. Expanding on procedures developed for the San Francisco Regional Study (Bell and others, 1995), the team developed data definitions, a classification scheme, compilation criteria, mapping specifications, guidelines for source materials, and metadata specifications to support development of a logically consistent dataset. Extensive documentation procedures were established to ensure consistency in data collection, and for subsequent application to other regions. Phase II was the implementation of the regional mapping effort.

ABSTRACT

The U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Maryland Baltimore County,

and the U.S. Bureau of the Census are developing a temporal database to

study urban development in the Baltimore-Washington region. The primary

data layer, the extent of urban or built-up areas, was compiled using a

geographic information system and historical maps, remotely sensed data,

digital land use data, and census information from a variety of sources.

Urban land use change has been documented by the Baltimore-Washington

Spatial Dynamics & Human Impact Study Team for the last 200 years. The

methods, definitions, and collection criteria used to define urban or

built-up areas were developed by a multi-disciplinary team that also

ensures consistency in collection techniques and documentation methods

for subsequent application in other regions. Animation techniques were

used to visualize the database and to document the evolution of the

region's urban landscape. The database is an important tool to urban and

regional planners, ecologists, and global change researchers for measuring

trends in urban sprawl, analyzing patterns of water pollution,

understanding the impacts of development on ecosystems, and developing

predictive modeling techniques to better forecast areas of urban growth.

The study area for Phase I consisted of an approximate area of 15- by 15-minute segment centered around the city of Baltimore (fig. 1). Phase I was used as a prototype for the technique development and integration that the multiagency collaborative effort would require. The regional study, Phase II, encompassed a 2-degree square centered on Washington, D.C. With more than 7 million people spread across 39 counties, the Baltimore-Washington region is one the Nation's fastest growing metropolitan areas. The two cities are rapidly merging into one.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1996
Title Developing a temporal database of urban development for the Baltimore/Washington region
Authors Janet S. Tilley, William Acevedo, Timothy W. Foresman, Walter Prince
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70202457
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center