Data-driven approach to urban planning and design


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Slide 1

Space Syntax has been applying and promoting a data-driven approach to urban planning and design. ‘Data’ may seem dry – the term more associated with robots than people. But the reason we use data is precisely because we would like to put people at the heart of the process of planning and design. I would like to introduce some examples of how we do this, focusing on ‘active travel’ and ‘health equity’.

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Health is a big topic and it’s complex. This is a wellknown obsesity map showing how the obesity is influenced by all these interrelating elements from genetic factors to economic factors. Although this suggests that urban environment alone cannot simply improve health of the population, it also suggests that it affects health of the population.

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“Healthy Streets for London” sets out principles to create streets that support and even encourage walking and social interactions, and contribute to cleaner air and our wellbeing.

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“Spatial Planning for Health” published by PHE in June 2017 summarises quite usefully planning principles to create places that are conducive to better health outcomes. These guidelines are very useful in showing how urban environment (e.g. land use, density, street network and transport network) affect our health and motivate us – planners and designers – to think about creating healthier environment.

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However, in reality the delivery of healthy environments is challenging – especially with the budget cuts and lack of resourcing that planning authorities are facing. There was a Guardian report – although it’s quite old now – that showed the Planning was one of the worst hit area in local authorities. There’s also another study by UCL researchers that showed the lack of design skills in local authorities and how they are supplementing to cope with the situation. Other experts such as conservation officers and traffic engineers are often pulled in the planning process.

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So here is how data and modelling can help deliver healthier places: Firstly we can use data and modelling to link measurable outcomes and design parameters so that we understand how a particular plan/design impact on the performance of places such as health, as well as social and economic performance. This makes it easier to assess planning and design ideas in relation to objectives that matter to people. Such measures help collaboration between various experts with different perspectives and knowledge. Having measures makes it easier for people to discuss and agree on health issues that are clearly complex and multi-dimensional. Also it is important for the creation of healthier places to think spatially. Local interventions, such as neighbourhood, street and housing design, are important. But larger scale issues such as street network, public transport network, land use distribution and density affect the potential for active travel and social isolation etc.

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We use Integrated Urban Modelling techniques to combine various datasets including street network, transport network, land use and demographics. These models are used to produce a range of parameters that relate to health and health equity.

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These tools can be used by planners in local authorities to enable outcome-based planning. They will also be able to help automation of certain processes, such as SHLAAs, to make it more efficient, giving planners more time to think, discuss and develop better plans for the future. Finally, when we use data and models, the availability and quality of data and transparency of models are very important to allow critical scrutiny and to be accountable. What I have shown you today are mostly based on publicly available data. We are also planning to release our spatial network model of the whole UK to support other people who might want to develop their own tools. We are developing an open source tool - Tombolo digital connector - with Future Cities Catapult using Innovate UK funding. This helps integrating data and create Integrated Urban Models, which are then used to develop a range of tools including those I showed earlier as well as SHLAA and Air Quality tools. We would like to contribute to creating an open culture in data and modelling field in order to make this kind of approach more accessible in public sector.

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One of them is active travel that measures car dependency.

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Spatial disparity – because of where they live relating to connectivity, land use mix and density.

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Another one is a tool to assess access to services. This is a versatile tool but one of the examples of its application to identify walkability in relation to various services and amenities.

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Data-driven approach to urban planning and design Measuring the impact of planning decisions on the potential for active travel and health equity GLA, City H Building the European digital health environment 23 January 2018 Dr. Eime Tobari Associate Director

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Source: TfL, Lucy Saunders

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Key elements in delivering healthier places Measurable health-related outcomes associated with design parameters to understand how design impact health. Collaboration between public health, planning and transport e.g. HIA, JSNA = opportunities Multi-scale approach and spatial planning Local scale interventions are useful but not enough

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Movement Character Economy Safety Sustainability Integrated Urban Modelling Linking design and outcomes Key parameters in spatial planning Street and transport networks Land use distributions Population/density

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Spatial planning tools Contributing to “open culture”

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Active travel Car dependency

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Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252 Access to job opportunities Walking Access to job opportunities 15 mins walk

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Access to job opportunities Public transport Access to job opportunities 15 mins walk + bus Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Access to job opportunities Private vehicles Access to job opportunities 15 mins drive Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Car dependency Public transport vs private vehicles Car dependency index Bus vs private vehicles Households Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Insight generation Commute to work by car Commute by car Census 2011 Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Access to Services Walkable services and amenities

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Access to services Variety of land uses Variety of land uses 5-minute walk Retail shops Food shops & markets Services Community facilities Open spaces Leisure Residential Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Access to GPs Walking Access to GPs Walking Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Access to GPs Impact on household and inequality Access to GPs 15-minute walk Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Access to GPs Service capacity Access to GPs 15-minute walk Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Access to GPs Service capacity and quality Access to GPs 15-minute walk Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Social Isolation Demographics and spatial segregation

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Social isolation Demographics and residential proximity Social isolation (AgeUK) Neighbours in 15-minute walk Marital status Self-reported health Age Tenure Deprivation Crown copyright. OS Licence No 0100192252

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Insight generation Impact on mental health? Social isolation score Age UK

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Thank you! @EimeTobari