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Plan for the most vulnerable

Step 1

Clarify expectations about digitalization of urban and spatial planning


Digital technology can be used to build a better knowledge of the city to help with local decision-making and improve risk and disaster management

The limits of urban and spatial planning, in particular for the most precarious neighbourhoods, originate from a lack of information and urban data on these territories. Digital technology can help improve the development of the territory through several tools.

  • Predictive models of how the city changes crossing satellite imagery, weather forecasts and topography studies. On this basis, the municipality can model contingencies, predict natural disasters and their impact, locate at risk infrastructure and equipment, sketch population relocation scenarios.
  • Participatory or community mapping exercises, often conducted with backing from NGOs, universities or donors. In this way, inhabitants of precarious neighbourhoods can generate digital maps, or even geographic information systems on residential areas neglected by urban planning. These maps can take account of representations and actual uses, as well as report on emergencies or needs expressed by the inhabitants.
  • The coverage of fundamental management and planning data. The land and property registry can be revisited by simple digital tools to help the city to better investigate the requests made, design functional zoning, prohibit urban development on certain sites, inventory the plots that are under-used and can be re-purposed, etc.

ICT can be an opportunity to fundamentally renew urban and spatial and planning tools, from more precise and up-to-date information on urban functioning, including on the more informal or excluded fringes. Digital technology can be used to assemble data on physical, social, economic, land ownership, environmental, etc. aspects; cross-reference it with public intervention capacities, and study the effects of an intervention on the whole territory. It is a real opportunity for building a knowledge database to guide the decisions-making.

Generating new knowledge on the city using digital technology seems an inevitable trend, and this data is made visible by dynamics that are informal or outside the public sphere. For local authorities, the challenge is to use this information for urban inclusion actions instead of ignoring it.

Practical exercise

Clarify expectations about digital technology to facilitate urban and spatial planning

Choose a reason from among the following for having local urban planning informed by ICT

  • Improve predictability of climate and environmental events and their impacts?
  • Ensure integration and consideration of the informal neighbourhoods in local development policies?
  • Better inform about public decisions and thereby revitalise planning practices?

Identify “informal” zones and agree to acknowledge them through mapping

  • Which population groups and neighbourhoods are hardly or not at all taken into account in planning?
  • About which zones is information lacking?
  • What are the limits of emergency responses in the event of a disaster? Which zones are not reachable by these emergency responses?
  • What are the urban challenges, informality or natural disaster, that cannot be digitalized, and how can they nonetheless be included in the decisions?

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