This research aims at contributing to the challenges of urban adaptation in transition countries of South-East Asia. It builds upon the elaboration of a dynamic vulnerability index using mobile phone data to examine which type of planning system offers the best conditions for developing new urban strategies that support the emergence of transformative adaptation pathways. Using a mixed-method research approach for investigating two contrasted planning systems in the Philippines (decentralised) and Vietnam (centralised), this research combines advanced spatial modelling techniques with field interviews of local actors from the field of planning and disaster risk management. Results will provide complementary insights into the practical contribution of Information and Communication Technologies in addressing human vulnerability to climate risks and the institutional and personal changes needed for supporting the creation of new urban planning strategies and tools. Research outcomes will have both theoretical and practical implications. On the one hand, it will add theoretical weight to the nascent literature on urban adaptation, illustrating the type of planning system features to promote for transitioning towards more transformative adaptation pathways. On the other hand, it will highlight concrete mechanisms through which mobile phone data can serve decision makers and local practitioners to plan for better disaster risk responses and improve the efficiency of risk-sensitive land-use planning.