It is indeed possible to have a city full of low-rise buildings that is still compact enough for excellent transit service—but only if most side streets are used for mid-rise buildings instead of houses.
This project by New York University, UN-Habitat the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and numerous collaborators is a comprehensive, ongoing research program to monitor quantitative and qualitative aspects of global urban expansion. The project used medium-resolution Landsat satellite imagery and census data to analyze how these cities grew between 1990 and 2014. Housing development and affordability surveys investigated how land use planning practices and development regulations affect urban fringe development patterns, home ownership patterns and housing affordability in these cities, based on data supplied by city-based researchers. The program has now completed its data collection phase and started evaluation and interpretation.
According to to the Bible, God told humans to be fruitful and multiply. With satellite images and integrated GIS data sets, researchers can create time-series animations that show how cities are fulfilling these instructions. Cool!