This infographic shows how Chinese cities are taking over the world economy

Where the magic happens. Image: CityMetric/Statista.

There are two long-term trends underway which are changing the shape of the global economy.

One, which will be obvious to anyone who reads CityMetric, is urbanisation: the way in which the population of the developing world are leaving the fields behind and packing themselves into ever swelling cities at an unprecedented rate.

The other, which will be obvious to anyone who ever reads the news, is that east is going to steal the west's lunch money.

This week’s infographic, from our mates at Statista, does a fine job of illustratimg both trends. It shows the 10 metropolitan areas which a report (PDF) from Oxford Economics, a consultancy, predicts will see the most economic growth over the next 30 years. As ever, the size of the bubble represents the size of the change.


You can instantly see quite how much of the growth is going to come from Asia – or, more specifically, from eastern China. No fewer than seven of the top 10 cities are in China, producing an estimated $3.8trn of growth between them. A fair few of these are names still unfamiliar in the west, too: Shenzhen, Chongqing, Suzhou.

That leaves space in the ranking for just two cities in the Americas and just one in Europe (still, nice to see London holding its own).

Things don't look better for the old world in the next bit of the league table, either: the next 10 cities on the list include another three apiece from the US and China, and one each from Japan (Tokyo), Brazil (Sao Paulo) and Indonesia (Jakarta).

Only one more European city makes the top 20 – and that's Istanbul, on the borders with the Middle East. Look to the top 50, and the only other European city that makes the list is Moscow.

Could be worse, though: at least Europe is already relatively rich. And GDP growth is at least partly a function of population growth: with a demographic crisis well underway on much of the continent, it’s no surprise that GDP growth in many European cities looks set to be limited. India, where urbanisation is well underway, doesn't have that excuse.

Prediction is hard of course, especially when it comes to the future: it's entirely possible that Oxford Economics' forecast is simply wrong. If not, though, well, you can expect to hear a lot more about Chongqing and Suzhou in the future.

 
 
 
 

London Overground is experimenting with telling passengers which bits of the next train is busiest

There must be a better way than this: Tokyo during a 1972 rail strike. Image: Getty.

One of the most fun things to do, for those who enjoy claustrophobia and other people’s body odour, is to attempt to use a mass transit system at rush hour.

Travelling on the Central line at 6pm, for example, gives you all sorts of exciting opportunities to share a single square inch of floor space with a fellow passenger, all the while becoming intimately familiar with any personal hygiene problems they may happen to have. On some, particularly lovely days you might find you don’t even get to do this for ages, but first have to spend some exciting time enjoying it as a spectator sport, before actually being able to pack yourself into one unoccupied cranny of a train.

But fear not! Transport for London has come up with a plan: telling passengers which bits of the train have the most space on them.

Here’s the science part. Many trains include automatic train weighing systems, which do exactly what the name suggests: monitoring the downward force on any individual wheel axis in real time. The data thus gathered is used mostly to optimise the braking.

But it also serves as a good proxy for how crowded a particular carriage is. All TfL are doing here is translating that into real time information visible to passengers. It’s using the standard, traffic light colour system: green means go, yellow means “hmm, maybe not”, red means “oh dear god, no, no, no”. 

All this will, hopefully, encourage some to move down the platform to where the train is less crowded, spreading the load and reducing the number of passengers who find themselves becoming overly familiar with a total stranger’s armpit.

The system is not unique, even in London: trains on the Thameslink route, a heavy-rail line which runs north/south across town (past CityMetric towers!) has a similar system visible to passengers on board. And so far it’s only a trial, at a single station, Shoreditch High Street.

But you can, if you’re so minded, watch the information update every few seconds or so here.

Can’t see why you would, but I can’t see why I would either, and that hasn’t stopped me spending much of the day watching it, so, knock yourselves out.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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