Machine learning for spatial analyses in urban areas: a scoping review

Ylenia Casali*, Nazli Yonca Aydin, Tina Comes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)


The challenges for sustainable cities to protect the environment, ensure economic growth, and maintain social justice have been widely recognized. Along with the digitization, availability of large datasets, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are promising to revolutionize the way we analyze and plan urban areas, opening new opportunities for the sustainable city agenda. Especially urban spatial planning problems can benefit from ML approaches, leading to an increasing number of ML publications across different domains. What is missing is an overview of the most prominent domains in spatial urban ML along with a mapping of specific applied approaches. This paper aims to address this gap and guide researchers in the field of urban science and spatial data analysis to the most used methods and unexplored research gaps. We present a scoping review of ML studies that used geospatial data to analyze urban areas. Our review focuses on revealing the most prominent topics, data sources, ML methods and approaches to parameter selection. Furthermore, we determine the most prominent patterns and challenges in the use of ML. Through our analysis, we identify knowledge gaps in ML methods for spatial data science and data specifications to guide future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104050
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Geospatial data
  • Machine learning
  • Review
  • Spatial analyses
  • Urban areas

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