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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made

module:Urban sustainability

Cities and the role of technology

page:Glossary

A
alternative transport systems  
Alternative to road-based transport, especially rail.
appropriate technology  
Use of technology appropriate to the society and culture it is in
aseismic buildings  
Buildings constructed so as to withstand different degrees of earthquake damage.
B
built-in obsolescence  
Products constructed to degrade and misfunction after only a short time of use, needing replacements.
biosphere  
The living part of earth, from the highest flying insect to the deepest oceanic trench worm
brownfield sites  
An area previously used for housing, industry or other infrastructure which has been cleared, de-contaminated and redeveloped for a new use. Contrasts with greenfield - land never used for urban functions before.
C
cities  
Cities are large, prominent or important centres of relatively permanent population: lacking self-sufficiency in the production of food, and usually dependent on manufacture and commerce . Larger than a town. The English word 'city' comes from the Latin 'civitas' - a highly organized community. This was often used to describe the city-states of Ancient Greece.
city system  
The people, goods and information flows which enter and leave a city, creating a system of inputs and outputs.
circular metabolism  
A system where some or many of the outputs are recycled back into the system, meaning less inputs are required
city  
Cities are large, prominent or important centres of relatively permanent population: lacking self-sufficiency in the production of food, and usually dependent on manufacture and commerce . Larger than a town. The English word 'city' comes from the Latin 'civitas' - a highly organized community. This was often used to describe the city-states of Ancient Greece.
city metabolism  
Using a view of cities as organisms, describes the way in which they operate to enable continued growth and functioning.
classquake  
Earthquakes are often most damaging in poorly constructed buildings, likely to be used and inhabited by poorer people, ie a lower socio-economic class.
concentration of people  
Clustering together of a large population.
D
development gap  
The economic and consequent social divide between richer countries such as the USA and poorer countries such as Bangladesh.
digital divide  
Describing the gap between MEDCs (More Economically Developed Countries) level of expertise, use and sales of computing and electronics, compared against LEDCs (Less Economically Developed Countries)
disposable culture  
Communities where no real recycling or consumer item repairs are carried out. USA demonstrates such a culture, whereas India is famous for its re-use of items.
division of labour  
Employment tasks split up among people.
dynamic process  
Changes which happen over time.
E
Earth Summit  
International meetings, every 5 years, organised by United Nations to discuss and try to offer solutions to the problems of development and environmental issues, beginning 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.
eco-friendly  
A development or decision which results in a beneficial effect on the environment or at least not causing environmental damage.
ecoHouse  
A house which has systems attempting to minimise negative effects on the environment, such as insulation, solar panels, recycled rain water.
ecological footprint  
The amount of land or resources required to sustain an individual or community.
eco-systems  
The system of interactions between living organisms and their environment.
energy efficiency  
A description of a property or machine which has special features aimed at reducing use of electrical or heating power, such as insulation, double-insulated windows, high-efficiency engines.
F
fibre-optic  
A medium of transmission by pulsing laser light down a strand of glass. Data is transferred over fibre cables in the form of light pulses with greater reliability and security than is possible using conventional copper cable.
footprint of cities  
The amount of land and/or resources used by a city, increasingly considered on a global rather than local or national scale.
G
gigabits  
A measurement of data storage, one gigabyte is equal to 1,024 megabytes. A byte is an abbreviation for binary term, a unit of storage capable of holding a single character.
globalisation  
The process enabling financial and investment markets to operate internationally, largely as a result of deregulation and improved communications. Transnational Companies have both helped the process and benefitted from it. Centuries earlier, techniques of industrial manufacturing similarly led to the changes associated with the process of industrialisation.
green belt  
Area of land often encircling a city, with extra planning restraints on development. Term first used in London in the 1940s.
greenhouse effect  
The roles of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases in keeping the Earth's surface warmer than it would be otherwise. They trap longwave radiation, which would otherwise escape to space, within the lower levels of the atmosphere. The subsequent reradiation of some of the energy back to the surface maintains surface temperatures higher than they would be if the gases were absent.
H
Habitat II  
United Nations Conference to discuss issues and problems faced by cities, the first being 1996 in Istanbul
hectare  
Area of measurement, a unit equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.471 acres.
high density housing  
Accommodation housing a large number of people in a small spatial area. Often high rise to maximise ground space.
high tech  
Highly advanced technological development, often using electronic equipment and computer systems. See also high technology.
high technology  
Highly advanced technological development, often using electronic equipment and computer systems. See also high tech.
high-density housing  
In 2001, dwellings were built at an average of only 25 dwellings per hectare, compared with the 30 to 50 recommended by the UK government. High density is typically high rise or terraced housing or detached with minimal garden space.
I
inner city  
Area immediately surrounding the Central Business District, a mixture of housing and industry and services. In more economically developed countries the inner city has experienced great loss of manufacturing industry and moe recently, efforts by decisionmakers to regenerate derelict land and poor housing conditions.
inputs  
Items entering a system.
J
K
key indicators  
An indicator is a statistic used to measure something. If it is a Key Indicator it is a good measure of a particular set of characteristics.
L
LEDCs  
Less Economically Developed Countries, poorer economically and usually with less social services and amenities like health, education and infrastructure.
low density  
Feature spaced out over a wide area.
low tech  
Mechanisms not usually requiring electronic input or much capital. See also low technology.
low technology  
Mechanisms not usually requiring electronic input or much capital. See also low tech.
lower density housing  
Population accommodated in more spaciously set out housing, possibly with green space
M
microcosm  
Small scale example of reality
misuse of technology  
Technology which is not used to benefit humans.
N
negative correlation  
Describing a pattern: when two sets of statistics are compared, as one statistic or parameter increases, the other decreases.
negative impact of cities  
Cities can offer great advantages in for example employment and opportunities, but their very size and functions can produce effects not desired. Pollution, overcrowding, and anti-social behaviour are a few of their negative effects.
New Towns  
New settlements, built by a variety of governments in the early 20th century. New Towns were often separate from other urban areas, supposed to be self sufficient in employment, housing and services. For example Harlow or Milton Keynes in the UK or 10th of Ramadan outside Cairo.
O
open system  
Where there are inputs and outputs from a system - for example ecosystems, humans and also cities.
outputs  
Items leaving a system.
P
photovoltaic system  
Technology in which a semiconductor electrical device converts the radiant energy of sunlight directly and efficiently into electrical energy.
pollution  
The presence of a substance in the environment that because of its chemical composition or quantity prevents the functioning of natural processes and produces undesirable environmental and health effects. Can be land, water or air based.
positive correlation  
Describing a pattern: when two sets of statistics are compared, as one statistic or parameter increases, so does the other.
Q
qualitative data  
Data difficult to gather statistical data about, includes perceptions and intangible aspects of a community such as community spirit.
quantify  
To measure using statistics.
R
railroad suburbs  
Sprawling low density housing which develops as railway lines are built, typically at city edges.
rainwater harvesting  
The efficient use of rain water, most of which drains away from cities via storm flow pipes.
renewable energy  
Energy obtained from sources that are renewable including hydroelectric power, wood, waste, geothermal, wind, photovoltaic, and solar thermal energy.
resources  
Any substance of use to humans; renewable such as water or finite such as oil.
S
self-regulating  
A system alters its own characteristics to achieve or regain equilibrium.
specialisation  
A focus on one aspect often to maximise efficiency.
spread city  
A sprawling city, where villages and rural areas around the main settlement become urbanised often with low density housing.
suburban sprawl  
Development at the edge or fringe area of cities, previously often without strict planning permission.
sustainability  
Making decisions for the present which do not compromise future decisions.
sustainable cities  
Settlements that have taken steps to remain 'healthy' over the long term, in environment, society and economy sectors.
Sustainable Cities Programme  
A joint UN-HABITAT/UNEP facility for helping urban environmental planning and management in LEDC cities eg in China, Poland, India.
sustainable city  
Settlements that have taken steps to remain 'healthy' over the long term, in environment, society and economy sectors.
sustainable development  
Positive changes in economy and society, giving aquality of life for individuals without compromising the ability of future generations to also have a good quality of life.
T
technology  
Mechanisms which develop systems that solve problems and extend human capabilities.
throughputs  
traffic calming  
Using measures to reduce the speed of traffic.
traffic management  
Decisionmakers implement a range of methods to ensure safe and efficient movement and parking of all forms of road transport.
traffic monitoring  
Measuring the flow and volume of road traffic.
traffic segregation  
Separating out of local and through routes and often segregating from pedestrian access, for more efficient flows and safety.
Transport for London  
The body responsible for the UK capital's transport system. Its role is to implement the Mayor's transport strategy for London and manage the transport services across the capital for which the Mayor has responsibility.
transport integration  
Planning of all aspects of transport as one system, rather than separate policies for rail, road and so on.
U
United Nations  
Intergovernmental organisation established in 1945, concerned with the maintenance of international peace and security.
urban species  
Instead of humans inhabiting a mixture of rural and urban habitats, by 2000 more people lived in urban areas.
urban sprawl  
The growth outwards at the edge of a city, typically suburbs in more economically developed cities, or squatter settlements in poorer countries.
urban village  
The concept of a close knit community style development in the middle of a city, where people live, use services and possibly work all in a small area. Helps sutainablity because it minimises movements. Examples: Silvertown in Docklands, or Chapel in Southampton.
V
vertical expansion  
Growth upwards from the base level of the land, for example high rise buildings.
voluntary sustainability  
City authorities and individuals and organisations choose to take measures to reduce negative effects on the environment and preserve it for future generations.
W
waste  
Unwanted byproducts of production and consumption.
X
Y
Z

Resource Descriptions