Digital tools and “Big Data” are increasingly important tools understanding, managing and even designing the city, and featured in a number of sessions at the 10th World Urban Forum, linking to the theme of “innovation”.
In terms of understanding, the “Urban Environment & Social Inclusion Index” is a tool that has been developed by the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness at Yale and Data-Driven Lab at the National University of Singapore. It uses OpenStreetMap to correlate factors that show how environment is linked to inequality, for example, where poorer areas have less trees, and thereby also are less resilient to climate change impacts.
In London, an online tool has been developed called “Greenkeeper”. It provides an inventory of what activities parks accommodate and rates their amenities. Developed by economists, it seeks to evaluate the economic costs and benefits of green infrastructure, to help argue for the value of open space, though it rates quantities rather than qualities, like design.
Design is a feature of the incredibly innovative BlockByBlock tool that uses the gaming engine and interface of Minecraft to allow users to design informal public spaces. Tested all over the world, amateur designers, often children, use the software to develop designs that have been built, putting design in the hands of residents using a fund technology accessible to all, encapsulating the UN motto “leave no one behind”.
Honorary Associate Professor, ATCH (Architecture, Theory, Criticism and History) Research Centre, School of Architecture, University of Queensland
World Urban Forum
Organised and convened by UN-Habitat, the World Urban Forum has become the foremost international gathering for exchanging views and experiences on sustainable urbanisation in all its ramifications. The inclusive nature of the Forum, combined with high-level participation, makes it a unique United Nations conference and the premier international gathering on urban issues.
SLU at the World Urban Forum 2020
SLU's participation at the World Urban Forum is supported by SLU Global and led by Zeinab Tag-Eldeen, Researcher at the Department of Urban and Rural Development, and coordinator of the Research Platform ‘Sparking Research into Global Transformation’. SLU arranges side events where research results in the field of sustainable urban development are presented. You will also find SLU in an exhibition stand at the Urban Expo.
Julian Raxworthy, PhD
Julian Raxworthy is an Australian landscape architect and academic, currently residing in Dubai, after 5 years in Cape Town. He is an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Queensland and reporting from the World Urban Forum for SLU Urban Futures.