A Network Flow Model for the Analysis of Green Spaces in Urban Areas

Authors Benjamin Niedermann , Johannes Oehrlein , Sven Lautenbach , Jan-Henrik Haunert

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Benjamin Niedermann
  • Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Germany
Johannes Oehrlein
  • Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Germany
Sven Lautenbach
  • Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Germany
Jan-Henrik Haunert
  • Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Germany

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Benjamin Niedermann, Johannes Oehrlein, Sven Lautenbach, and Jan-Henrik Haunert. A Network Flow Model for the Analysis of Green Spaces in Urban Areas. In 10th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2018). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 114, pp. 13:1-13:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


Green spaces in urban areas offer great possibilities of recreation, provided that they are easily accessible. Therefore, an ideal city should offer large green spaces close to where its residents live. Although there are several measures for the assessment of urban green spaces, the existing measures usually focus either on the total size of green spaces or on their accessibility. Hence, in this paper, we present a new methodology for assessing green-space provision and accessibility in an integrated way. The core of our methodology is an algorithm based on linear programming that computes an optimal assignment between residential areas and green spaces. In a basic setting, it assigns a green space of a prescribed size exclusively to each resident such that the average distance between residents and assigned green spaces is minimized. We contribute a detailed presentation on how to engineer an assignment-based method such that it yields reasonable results (e.g., by considering distances in the road network) and becomes efficient enough for the analysis of large metropolitan areas (e.g., we were able to process an instance of Berlin with about 130000 polygons representing green spaces, 18000 polygons representing residential areas, and 6 million road segments). Furthermore, we show that the optimal assignments resulting from our method enable a subsequent analysis that reveals both interesting global properties of a city as well as spatial patterns. For example, our method allows us to identify neighborhoods with a shortage of green spaces, which will help spatial planners in their decision making.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Information systems → Geographic information systems
  • urban green
  • transportation problem
  • maximum flow
  • linear program


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