• Urban data scan

    Belgium
    Antwerp

    A smart link between data and urban planning in order to create mixed urban environments embraced by citizens and partners

    Heidi Vandenbroecke
    Expert GIS- and spatial analysis
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    521 946

    Summary

    Cities are always evolving, as are the variety and availability of urban data. Antwerp (BE) invests in a smart city strategy and strives to be a “walkable city” with mixed, high-quality neighbourhoods. To do so, for nearly a decade Antwerp has been using an “urban data scan” which maps out specific needs, problems and opportunities. Multitudes of geo- and statistical data are structured around different themes to provide a clear overview of the most relevant data. This allows policymakers to develop substantiated visions and make informed spatial decisions. Progress can be monitored for all kinds of projects and developments. Two online platforms share these data and maps with city employees, citizens, companies, project developers and other cities. The urban scan is all about optimising and sharing data, preparing good spatial decisions, and building a better city for all our citizens and partners.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    Urban data scans provide a method to map out needs and shortages specifically for local amenities (e.g. schools, sport, green spaces, culture, commerce, well-being, youth). First, the capacity is gauged by analysing the number or area of amenities per target group. Next, the reach, or relative proximity and distribution of these amenities, are determined based on walking distances. Local amenities differ in reach, functioning either at the level of the neighbourhood (400 metres), a residential quarter (800 meters) or urban quarter (1 600 metres). This twofold approach creates a clear picture of needs and shortage zones, allowing policymakers to balance the distribution of amenities, based on walking distances and target groups. Simulations also allow us to take into account future residents in project areas and to calculate effects in terms of new needs or required new amenities. This enables informed policy decisions and provides a strong base for financial and strategic negotiations with all the parties involved. For example, an urban scan has led to the decision to provide a 17-hectare park (Park Spoor Noord) in the densely populated Antwerpen-Noord quarter. New green spaces, but also schools, nurseries and sports facilities were incorporated in projects such as Nieuw Zuid, Groen Kwartier and Eilandje after thorough urban scans. The urban quarters outside of the inner city, across the Singel and Ring roads, are mapped out extensively as well.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    The urban scan enables a horizontally integrated approach. It involves structuring large sets of data according to a multitude of themes and provides insight into socio-demographics, economy, housing, the legal context, mobility, environment, well-being and built and unbuilt amenities. As such, urban scans form a strong base for sustainable and integrated policies, not only in the field of spatial planning, but for other policy domains as well. The right amounts of green and open spaces, schools, sport, culture, children’s and youth’s amenities, commerce and well-being are crucial in promoting attractive urban environments. Moreover, walking and cycling distances stimulate sustainable urban mobility. The city has user-friendly tools to help make all these data and maps available for its own employees, citizens, entrepreneurs, research agencies, project developers, other cities and higher-level governments. The latter enables a vertically integrated approach. The integrated use of statistics and maps further increases the importance of data sharing.

    Based on a participatory approach

    The urban scan is a participatory and flexible instrument that has developed organically in close consultation with several partners. Fifteen years ago, the main goal was to analyse the city’s green structure. Evolving insights, amenities, data and users’ experiences have ensured that the urban scan is still an innovative tool today. Air and noise pollution, for instance, have become important themes and are now included in the scan. The platforms that share the maps and data with citizens, companies, research agencies, project developers and other cities and governments are important communication and sensitisation tools. City neighbourhoods and even cities can be compared, knowledge is shared, ambitions and goals are monitored and other governments and partners are stimulated to analyse and share their own data. Stad in cijfers (“city statistics”) is Antwerp’s interactive online data platform. Since 2009, it has amassed more than 5,000 layers of data, structured according to themes, scales and dates. The data can be presented in tables, charts and maps and can be consulted, analysed and compared in space and time. Other Flemish and Dutch cities use the same system. Since 2013, the city also has an intranet platform for geo-data, a GIS-viewer with more than 1,000 data layers. Stad in Kaart (“city maps”) allows city employees to request information and to perform simple spatial analyses. Combinations of geo-data often provide more insight than data organised in tables.

    What difference has it made?

    Urban scans increase policymakers’ awareness of shortages and needs in terms of green spaces, nurseries, sport, culture, commerce, well-being and youth. Statistical data and maps indicate areas to invest in and enable the right choices. This method is used for up to 90% of urban development projects in Antwerp. Apart from amenities, the scan also sheds light on the demographic, social and economic dynamics in residential quarters. Environmental quality, mobility and housing are taken into consideration as well. And because the scan has existed for a number of years, evolutions can be traced. In the district of Hoboken, for example, a project for low-skilled employment targeted residential areas with many unemployed citizens. Likewise, measures in the Ring Road area are focused on reducing air and noise pollution. In former port area Eilandje a new tram line brings public transport within walking distance for residents. And urban scans also lead to the development of new green spaces. The importance of the scan has even increased in the past year because it has become mandatory for large private developments. The desired programme needs to be negotiated and must be implemented or financially compensated. The urban scan thus has an important potential impact on the choices that are made within projects.

    Why should other European cities use it?

    Because cities are continuously evolving, they are always first to face new challenges and problems, such as demographic evolutions, urban mobility, air and noise pollution, inclusion of migrants and refugees, housing, urban poverty and the digital transition. Throughout these evolutions, it is crucial to strive for optimal functional mixes (living, working and recreation) and mixed neighbourhoods with local amenities within walking distance of citizens. Because the urban scan touches upon all the relevant themes for the ambition of a walkable city with liveable and healthy neighbourhoods, it forms a perfect tool for sustainable urban projects. Urban scans consistently take into account new insights and data, making them a flexible instrument for evolving and complex cities. The systematic method of the urban scan enables policymakers to make the right choices and brings order in the increasing amounts and availability of data. The online data platforms enable comparisons with other cities of similar sizes. Those cities can exchange relevant data and knowledge. Most cities already have a platform or collection method for data about city quarters and neighbourhoods. The urban scan can help broaden European instruments such as the Urban Audit, substantially as well as in terms of their scope (city quarters and neighbourhoods). If the required competencies and political support are present, the method is certainly applicable in other cities.

    Is a transfer practice
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    9492
  • Atlas of metropolitan spaces

    France
    Bordeaux

    An atlas of interdependency and interconnections, with a view to implementing efficient partnerships across the territory as a whole

    François Cougoule
    Urban Designer, a’urba
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    246 586

    Summary

    For the Agence d'urbanisme Bordeaux métropole Aquitaine (AURBA), accepting that society functions as a network is central to understanding the changes at work in urban and metropolitan systems. In 2016, they produced an atlas of the metropolitan spaces of Bordeaux (FR) that not only analyses the evolution of factors like population, employment and mobility, but also shows exchanges with other territories.
    The idea is that this “relational approach” to certain spaces enables the notion of changing reality to be integrated into their development and urban management. In this way territories can be understood according to their interdependency and interconnections, rather than in terms of distribution and localisation alone.
    The atlas builds on the conviction that in a context of diminishing public resources and inward-looking attitudes, improving familiarity with, and understanding of, our neighbours fosters greater openness and new forms of partnership.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    Metropolisation is a process. Our analysis does not focus on a finished geographic object, but rather seeks to shed light on dynamic processes and trends. Our angles of interpretation and perimeters are multiple. Pre-existing limits are discarded in favour of explorations of territories fashioned by exchange networks. The Bordeaux metropolitan area is varied in nature - Bordeaux exchanges employees with the Arcachon basin and Libourne, patients with La Rochelle and Toulouse, clients with Bayonne and Langon, second home owners with Royan and Périgueux, spectators with Angoulême and Toulouse, engineers and editors with Paris and Lyon, tourists with Barcelona and London, students with Bucharest and Dakar, researchers with Munich and Los Angeles, and bottles of wine with the whole world. Our aim is to promote ways of developing territorial strategies in full knowledge of the forces at work, the existing stocks, interactions and exchange networks. Whether metropolisation is to be endured or desired, ignored or regulated, it concerns everyone. The issues at stake are thus extremely numerous - demography, migration, employment, the economy, public facilities, services, the environment, tourism, local resources. In addition to exhaustive monographs of stabilised perimeters and detailed indicators, dynamic explorations are also presented, with a view to comparing and contrasting different scales, themes and objects of observation (as well as exchanges and stocks).

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    Over and above urban challenges, specifically territorial challenges lie at the heart of this atlas. Understanding the functional reality of a territory, by comparing and contrasting themes and scales is the raison d’être of this work, as a means of shaping a global, structuring vision of how territories function. This approach examines a variety of interrelated themes: the environment (water resources, nature reserves etc.), the economy (links between head offices and branches, patents, exports etc.) or social factors (residential migration, utilities and public facilities, etc.). Horizontal thematic integration is essential if we are to gain a full grasp of the metropolisation phenomenon. This comparative approach is also adopted in terms of spatial scale, as a means of exploring this subject on a comprehensive level. Metropolisation is of course a large-scale phenomenon, taking place on the European or world scale, but it is first and foremost a daily development, clearly observable in cities and neighbourhoods.

    Based on a participatory approach

    A participative approach has not been implemented in the development and production phase. The complexity of the phenomenon under study is such that it demanded the formation of an academic committee comprising researchers in the field of geography and experts in data analysis and cartography. The most significant phase is now commencing, with the delivery of our first results for discussion. These findings were initially addressed to political decision-makers, as they are directly responsible for managing territorial resources. The light shed on existing and upcoming partnerships makes it possible to make budget savings by offering support to ongoing dynamics (be they social or economic). The results are also of interest to people living in the areas studied. People across the region have shown a clear interest in our research and cartography during public presentations of our work.

    What difference has it made?

    As described above, our research aims to shed light on areas of effective partnership between territories, towns and cities. In the current climate, it is becoming increasingly necessary for services, facilities and resources of all natures to be pooled, and towns will be able to build on our findings to begin to work with rather than against each other. This will make way for the creation of new structures on which partnerships may be founded, such as the “Metropolitan Poles” already in action across France, through which territories commit to clearly defined cooperation goals in a range of precise areas (e.g. academia, culture, economic development).

    Why should other European cities use it?

    Metropolisation is a process which affects the whole of Europe, both in urban, peri-urban and rural environments. While major conurbations often see it as a positive element, rural and outlying areas seem to endure rather than control it. Tracing the contours of the process shows that, in reality, all territories have their part to play and that rather than merely modifying the size of our towns, a whole set of measures and policies of an inherently local nature are driving this trend. If metropolisation is inevitable, then it is important that it be understood by all, and that all territories should play their role to the full.

    Is a transfer practice
    0
    Ref nid
    9485