Center of Spatial Information Science

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria - Nigeria


Focuses on multidisciplinary research on the processes of urbnaisation in Nigeria and the explanations. Current understanding of African urbanism has received more interest from researchers outside Africa often providing generalized deductions that mask specific and important realities. The primary focus of research at the Centre therefore is to deepen knowledge of African urbanisation represented by informality through the study of the urbanisation process in African's most populous nation. Working from a multidisciplinary base, the centre draws researchers from within and outside Nigeria to realize these objectives. Currently, there is special focus on the research "Nigeria urbanisation study: Beyond numbers" beginning in 2015 on four thematic areas:

  • Spatial dynamics of urban growth in Nigeria (1960-2014).
  • Social networks, change processes and social outcomes of urbanisation in Nigeria.
  • Livelihood, enterprise and entrepreneurship in informal settlements.
  • Governing informal urbanisation.
  • Climate change.

Spatial Modelling and Visualization

Spatial simulation models are abstract and simplified representation of real life often used as laboratories for investigating outcomes of various scenarios. Through the deployment of enhanced information technologies, the Centre works to encode, sort, describe, manipulate and project various urbanisation scenarios and outcomes towards guiding planning decisions for sustainable development. The design and utilization of task specific mathematical and computer programmes and techniques are used to support research on urban forms and functionality, communication, including problem solving applications. The work of the Centre also enables creation of on-line interactive map galleries and data animations to help in the understanding, analysis and explanation of the distribution of human and spatial phenomena. Spatial modeling and visualisation has become important in real life as huge volumes of data have suddenly become available and unmanageable.

Community Support and Capacity Building

The Centre seeks to build the capacity of local communities to become active participants in the planning and management of cities both as providers and users of information. Through democratization of urban geo-spatial information, focus is placed on developing tools to empower communities with basic skills to identify, generate, share, analyse and use information that could help them improve their localities. The primary interest is on:

  • Participatory Geographic information system - citizens as sensors.
  • Use of open-source Geo-spatial software and location Apps.
  • Activities of the Centre also extend to capacity building for various stakeholders (public institutions, private sector, NGOs;, etc) in urban planning and management through short courses and programmes, workshops and conferences etc, in addition to coordinating the publication and dissemination of research outputs.

Smart Cities Programme

Efficient urbanization today depends not only on the city's endowment of hard infrastructure, but also and increasingly on the quality of knowledge communication and social infrastructure available. It is against this background that the concept of smart cities has become as a strategic device to encompass modern urban production factors into a common framework using ICT to enhance efficient delivery of services and development of the city. The smart cities programme of the Centre seeks to promote the application of ICT and smart applications that help improve the governance and management of cities towards efficient, productive and sustainable growth. The smart cities programme has particular interest on: Development of mobile applications that help urban managers address urbanisation challengtes, Building understanding on the use and impact of ICT on the way cities function and the opportunities it creates for urban planning and management.

Urban Informatics and Big Data

By collecting and analyzing extensive data generated daily from imageries, digital processes and social media, the Centre hopes to share information to various users and also provide the big picture for decision makers. By applying analytics on big data, the Centre also hopes to provide a more vivid picture of the city and the forces that shape it. Lack of adequate and reliable data on Nigerian cities means that decisions are often made based on instinct, which big data and analytics can correct.