Despite the popularity of the term urban livability, it is often used by different groups under different circumstances. A broader understanding of urban livability is that it concerns the quality of life in any human living environment. The World Health Organization, among many others, suggests a four-dimension assessment system based on the concepts of convenience, amenity, health and safety that can be used to evaluate any cities’ potential livability. Following this proposal, the current study taps into the power of GIS and Remote Sensing technologies to generate a set of urban livability evaluating indicators via extracted land use information. Using the city proper of Changchun, Jilin Province of China as an example, the study extracts fifteen individual land use indicators from topographic maps and a remote sensing imagery. A principal component analysis-based approach was used to build an urban livability index with the fifteen indicators. Furthermore, with detailed examination of relevant studies, national documents and local fieldwork, this research also establishes potential benchmark values for all fifteen livability evaluating indicators for comparison purposes. Results suggest that slightly more than half of Changchun’s city proper is above the livability benchmark in the framework of the current study. Residents’ access to parks and open spaces is a major lagging factor for the city proper’s livability. The study provides an alternative of quantifiable and verifiable approach for sustainable urban planning, especially from a land use policy perspective.
Urbanization in China has experienced rapid development during the past decades. While rapid urbanization brought tremendous changes on urban landscape, scholars also observe the increase of urban pollution, traffic congestion, shrinking public services and aging infrastructure in Chinese cities (Fang et al., 2016; Liu, 2018; Liu et al., 2014; Yu et al., 2014; Zhan et al., 2018). These so-called “urban diseases” (Fang and Yu, 2016) have adversely impacted on city residents’ daily lives across the entire city. Under such circumstances, both the Chinese government and scholars attempt to address urban livability issues in recent years (Zhan et al., 2018). Although used liberally, the term urban livability often lacks a consensus of what exactly it refers to. Kashef (2016) summarizes broadly three different aspects of urban livability research, namely, from the design literature, the planning literature, and the popular media and global ranking literature, and advocates for an interdisciplinary understanding that potentially considers all aspects of urban livability. Such suggestions, though conceptually appealing, often lack practical operability. Urban planners and other urban science practitioners, on the other hand, carefully consider urban livability as a balanced and harmonious mode of economic, social, cultural, land use and environmental development in cities (Asgarzadeh et al., 2012; Flores et al., 1998; Kazemi et al., 2018; Liu et al., 2014).