Summary of How Urban Planners Use Data to Improve China's Cities

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In this talk hosted by content platform Dedao University, urban planner Mao Mingrui reminds readers that data aren’t just cold numbers; instead they carry the warmth of human activities. Urban planners today have a lot more data at their disposal than in the past. While technological advances help urban planners draw up more precise blueprints and designs, a city doesn’t come alive unless the planners know what data to collect and how to interpret them. Mao explains why he looks at undergarments that are hung up to dry on patios and why he tallies the amount of dog feces on the streets. Find out how these observations help him improve life in Beijing. His entertaining and enlightening talk, transcribed and published by Chinese learning platform Luogical Thinking, might change the way you look at your city.

About the Author

Mao Mingrui is a Beijing-based urban planner and the founder and CEO of UrbanXYZ, a startup that provides urban planning consulting and data collection and analysis services.



Urban planning goes beyond engineering and logistics. It’s part of a complex system of public service and regulation. Government regulation and monitoring is supposed to provide stability, safety and structure for citizens. Urban planners add comfort. To make cities more humane, tolerant and welcoming, planners strive to understand a city’s residents and its culture. Sometimes, you need data for a comprehensive understanding. A casual observer might think that Beijing has more hair salons and foot massage parlors than Shanghai or other large cities and draw the conclusion that Beijingers do their hair more often and pamper themselves more. But the data don’t confirm that conclusion. Instead, Beijing merely seems to have more of those services because they have less of other services that are common in cities like Shanghai. Beijing has, for example, fewer convenience stores and breakfast shops because the city’s government agencies, universities and military courtyards have their own cafeterias. It’s actually the ratio of hair salons and beauty parlors to convenience stores that’s higher...

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