Built-Up Areas in India (e-GEOPOLIS)
Funding Agency(ies):
ANR ; Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot ; IFP ; INED ; Université de Bourgogne
Axis 2. of the Social Sciences Department /

e-Geopolis (whole project)

The objectives of the project is to promote a systematic corpus of statistical data related to the dynamics of urban growth of the Planet. The project is contextualized with the use of 2 large existing databases: Geopolis and Archives Terrae Statisticae (ATS):

e-GeopolisGeopolis is from now on the only existing scientific database on worldwide built-up areas: it lists about 50 000 built-up areas and gives the evolution of their population on the longest possible period of the History.

ATS archives are the result of an association (1901 French law) which has the objective of putting geographic coordinates and of digitize statistical data for each local population unit (town, village, commune, parish …), from all the existing modern census (1790 – now) for each country of the world.

The e-Geopolis project aims at merging these two databases, completing and updating them, setting up the informatics structure with a view to an “intelligent” scientific promotion which comprises the whole knowledge chain, from sources archiving to research results dissemination, not to mention the methodological transparency, the definitions building and the on-line publication of tables, indexes and maps.

Complementary data acquisition is a compulsory activity for the program cohesion. SEDET laboratory, the project pilot, is currently the only one to gather the necessary data capital to the realization of such a project than e-Geopolis.

e-Geopolis India

e-Geopolis The database particularly deals with one of the world demographic giants, India (one sixth of World population). The project has the support of French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) and of its geomatics department (LIAG).

Since the economical liberalization, started fifteen years back, India is facing an important economical growth between 6 and 9% yearly. This fast economic growth is on-going together with a fast growth of urban population, that could turn 473 millions people in 2021 (Government of India). But it is also on-going with the transformation of thousands of villages that don’t appear in the “official” urban category, despite their size and their character less and less agricultural. So, for example, in 2001 census, the number of “villages” of more than 10 000 inhabitants was higher than the number of “cities”.

India has one of the best statistical coverage existing in Southern countries, by its quality, its fine spatial resolution (622 000 towns and villages, almost 4 000 towns) and by its historical background (first census is from 1872).

Paradoxically, India still has no geographic information system for mapping populating dynamics at the local populating unit level. So, and whether outstanding monographies exist on Indian megalopolis, on some middle-size cities or even some regions, there is until now no way for studying systematically the evolution of the Indian population system.

Materials and Methods:

e-Geopolis The team of the project e-Geopolis capitalizes about 80% of existing historic géo-statistico information on the evolution of the population of the human built-up areas (ULP) of the whole Planet, material from which is extracted the numbers of population of the agglomerations.

e-Geopolis has for vocation to become the world reference concerning historic and geographical information on the evolution of the population of the agglomerations of more than 10 000. The strong point of the project resides in the international methodology adopted to delimit the urban space. Indeed, every country of the World adopted a specific definition of the urban area, so that, on a scientific point of view, the urban statistics are not comparable on an international scale. The agglomerations of Geopolis are defined on the contrary according to the same statistical criteria. Whatever is the official national definition of the urban: a Geopolis agglomeration is a space built in continuous where leave at least 10 000 inhabitants. This methodology gave its proofs since more of 15 years: the data of Geopolis served references to innumerable researches and publications.

The Indiapolis project, localized to the IFP (LIAG), constitutes the institutional and technical relay of the Asian part of the project. It enhances an unique statistical heritage in the southern countries, composed by 14 censuses of the population (census) done from 1872 to 2001.

The first phase (2008-2009) will consist in:
-  a. geo-referencing the 6 000 towns, urban areas and villages of more than 10 000 inhabitants currently existing (census 2001)
-  b. gathering to this level the data of the census of 1872 to 2001
-  c. pursuing the experience of the SIPIS project in the same way, started at IFP by C.Z. Guilmoto (1998), by mapping census data to the village level in Tamil Nadu. The second phase (2010-2011) will consist in spreading the principle of the exhaustive cartography of the population in the set of the cities and villages of India, and to prepare the actualization of the census of 2011.

  • François Moriconi-Ebrard, Geography, Sociétés En Développement dans l’Espace et dans le Temps (SEDET) - CNRS, Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot, FRANCE
  • Frédéric Borne, Geomatics, Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP) - INDE, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères de la France
  • Kamala Marius-Gnanou, Geography, Université Bordeaux III, FRANCE
  • Eric Denis, Economy, Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP) - INDE, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères de la France
  • Subramanian Venkata, Statistics, Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP) - INDE, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères de la France
  • G. Muthusankar, Geomatics, Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP) - INDE, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères de la France
  • Valérie Golaz, Demography, Centre d’Etude pour la Population et le Développement (CEPED), INED, FRANCE
  • Thomas Thévenin, Geography, Théoriser et Modéliser pour Aménager (TheMA), Université de Bourgogne, FRANCE
  • Hervé Gazel, Geomatics, Association Entre Nous Et Vous (ENEV), FRANCE

Staff ( IFP & External )

DENIS É., Associated researcher
BORNE F., Associated researcher
MUTHUSANKAR G., Head of GIS projects