Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Emerging Technology from the arXiv

A View from Emerging Technology from the arXiv

Best of 2015: Data Mining Reveals the Extent of China’s Ghost Cities

Overdevelopment in China has created urban regions known as ghost cities that are more or less uninhabited. Nobody knew how bad the problem was until Baidu used its Big Data Lab to find out. From November …

  • January 1, 2016

In recent years, China has undergone a period of urban growth that is unprecedented in human history. The number of square kilometers devoted to urban living grew from 8,800 in 1984 to 41,000 in 2010. And that was just the start. China used more concrete between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th century

Some of this building has been misplaced. In various parts of China, developers have built so much housing so quickly that it has outstripped demand, even in the world’s most populous country. The result is the well-publicized phenomenon of ghost cities—entire urban areas that are more or less deserted.

But much of the reporting on ghost cities is anecdotal or based on unreliable measurements such as a simple count of the number of lights on at night in residential buildings. That’s a particularly inaccurate method, not least because it ignores seasonal variations caused by tourism. Many places are busy during the tourist season but empty during the off-season, and not just in China. So being unable to distinguish these from ghost cities is something of a problem.

And that raises an interesting question: how bad, really, is the problem of ghost cities in China?

Continued

AI is here.
Own what happens next at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.