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urbanAPI - Interactive Analysis Simulation and Visualisation Tools for Urban Agile Policy Implementation


  • An innovation IT solution in support of urban strategy planning [PDF]
  • Aplicación de herramientas basadas en tecnologías de la información y la comunicación en la gestión [PDF]
    This paper presents the intended use of the two first applications of urbanAPI in one of the pilot cities of Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain). We envision the use of these applications because they are closely related to other two municipal projects. The first application based on the exploitation of virtual reality scenarios, is intended to support decision-making in urban reform projects; specifically, in the improvement works related to the implementation of urban green infrastructure. The second application analyses the data from mobile phones anonymously to identify trends of mobility and use of public space by citizens. We expect that the information derived from this application can be used as a support and complement of the mobility surveys used by urban planners as a basis for the mobility planning.
  • Applying the CoReS Requirements Development Method for Building IT Tools for Urban Management System [PDF]
    Gathering and managing requirements from stakeholders is an essential task for the successful development of IT tools for any application domain. However, specifying stakeholders’ requirements for a collaborative research and development project in the urban management domain is especially challenging. The reason for this is that stakeholders are drawn from different professional, scientific and national backgrounds and contexts, and therefore have various and differing research, technological and application domain-specific objectives. These challenges make it difficult to identify commonalities in requirements that can result in the development of generic IT tools which can be applied in other cities. These various challenges make it highly desirable therefore to identify and apply a coherent methodological approach to the management of the requirements gathering process and stakeholder engagement more generally. In this paper, we introduce a coherent methodology and a generic requirements engineering process, namely – ‘CoReS – Collaborative Requirements Engineering and Stakeholder engagement’. This process is applied to the UrbanAPI-project - a collaborative research project, in which eleven partners from six European countries are collaborating to develop IT tools to support policy making, urban planning and participatory governance at different urban scales. The CoReS method results in the identification of commonalities in stakeholder requirements from four major cities located in different EU member states with the objective to develop generic IT tools and applications. More specifically, this paper reports on the urban planning issues and needs for generic IT tools. In addition, it presents strengths and weaknesses of the CoReS method applied in the UrbanAPI project. Furthermore, it is argued that this experience can effectively support the specification of a roadmap in defining the requirements for the development of IT tools for decision support in the urban planning domain, that can be applied to a wide range of cities throughout Europe.
  • Domain-Specific Languages For Agile Urban Policy Modelling [PDF]
    In this paper we present a new approach of performing urban policy modelling and making with the help of ICT enabled tools. We present a complete policy cycle that includes creating policy plans, securing stakeholders and public engagement, implementation, monitoring, and evaluating a particular policy model. ICT enabled tools can be deployed at various stages in this cycle, but they require an intuitive interface which can be supported by domain-specific languages (DSLs) as the means to express policy modelling aspects such as computational processes and computer-readable policy rules in the words of the domain expert. In order to evaluate the use of such languages, we present a real-world scenario from the urbanAPI project. We describe how DSLs for this scenario would look like. Finally, we discuss strengths and limitations of our approach as well as lessons learnt.
  • Exploring population distribution and motion dynamics through mobile phone device data [PDF]
    The paper discusses experiences of development and implementation of public motion explorer (PME) tool as part of the EU FP7 project urbanAPI. This tool is applied on three EU cities with the objective to investigate population distribution dynamics and anonymous population movement patterns within urban environments as an instrument to map shapes of urban attractivness and assessibility and as a support for transportation and infrastructure planning. The paper describes technical details of public motion explorer application by demonstrating the different applications for the City of Vienna, Bologna and Vitoria-Gasteiz and discusses the results of the first round of the user evaluation using Criteria Indicators and Metrics methodology. The initial results indicate that the application is intuitive and highly useful for city planning and provides the evidence-based information, which is either expensive or difficult to collect using other approaches.
  • How to make a better city [PDF]
    Today European cities are increasingly challenged by various socio-economic and environmental issues, including climate change, undermining the quality of life of the citizens. In response city managers are developing visions for the future shape of an urban Europe, and are seeking to manage city-regions to ensure that the benefits gained so far are passed on to future generations. Over the past years, the governance of cities is increasingly supported by the application of smart city solutions, based on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and methodologies that provide an effective basis for the assessment of urban complexity, decision-making support, and the creation of robust solutions. In this context the urbanAPI project, funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission, developed three tools which provide ICT enabled interactive analysis, simulation and visualisation tools for urban agile policy implementation. With respect to the goals of the project, the hypothesis of the urbanAPI system is that the huge amounts of public sector data that already exist, but also formal and informal data collected every day by all types of stakeholders, can be integrated and made accessible for the activities related to policy making.
  • ICT enabled participatory urban planning and policy development: the urbanAPI project [PDF]
    The aim of this paper is to present effectiveness of participatory ICT tools for urban planning and supporting bottom up decision making in urban management and governance.
  • Interactive, GPU-Based Urban Growth Simulation For Agile Urban Policy Modelling [PDF]
    In this paper we present a novel approach of simulating urban growth by utilising the computation power of modern GPUs. The simulation results can be used in urban policy modelling to reduce turnaround times in the policy cycle. We use a state-of-the-art agent-based simulation model that consists of rules to describe human behaviour. The simulation incorporates geospatial information such as land-use, current population density and road network data. In order to simulate the phenomena of urbanisation, in our model citizens more likely settle near roads or existing settlements/cities. In this paper we present our implementation that is based on the FLAME GPU framework. Each agent on the GPU represents a group of citizens at a specific location. In order to evaluate our approach we present a practical use case. We measure the performance of our implementation and compare it with a Java-based solution. Finally, we discuss our approach and show opportunities for agile and interactive urban policy modelling.
  • Introducing the Urban Growth Simulation Application in support to sustainable territorial management [PDF]
    Most urban planning documents and strategies are based on the traditional analysis of various data and information, collected by the municipal administration and combined with data and information coming from regional and governmental administration. In the case of the Bulgarian-Romanian cross-border area there is additional need of trans-border exchange or information and of therefore of harmonization and integration of all kind of databases, mainly land cover and land use data. For the purposes of better understanding and management of urbanized areas, ASDE, with the participation of DG JRC experts has developed and proposed the so-called “urban-blocks” concept, as a specific classification unit, combining land cover and partly land use characteristics, to overcome the semantic complexity of different elements of the urbanized areas. This ”urban blocks” have close links with referring statistical and other data and information and can be used for better monitoring of changes in cities and for better management strategy planning. The integrated and coordinated processing and assessment is a time consuming and high expert task and often the municipal administration and the contracted expert groups do not process all possible variants and development scenarios. The same with risk prevention. There is a need of an innovation tool, supporting the processing of various urban planning scenarios and large investment initiatives or projects, aiming the selection of best applications variants and avoiding serious mistakes and failures in urban management. The urbanAPI Urban Growth Simulation (UGS) application provides the possibility of using an innovation tool , for different scenarios programing and assessment. It supports the development and assessment of various models of management, list of priorities, major investment projects. It is an attractive toll for strategy planning and clarification of possible tendencies, potential risks, negative and positive results of realized management activities.
  • Leveraging public participation in urban planning with 3D web technology [PDF]
    In this paper we present a web-based platform that makes use of HTML5 technology and WebGL to facilitate public participation in urban planning. It consists of components that enable city administrations to present urban plans to the public and to engage with stakeholders. One of these components uses the open source library X3DOM to visualise 3D content---for example, a city model containing a 3D representation of a planned building. Since X3DOM does not need additional software to be installed on the user's system our implementation is more portable than previous work. Our solution is based on the open source software Liferay which allows it to be configured for various urban planning projects. In order to enable communication between different web application components residing in inline frames (iframes) we implemented a special message bus based on HTML5 postMessage. In this paper we describe implementation details, but we also intensively discuss the possibilities of modern web technology for urban planning. We motivate the use of such technology through three examples that can be implemented using our web application. In this paper we also present results from evaluating our application in user workshops carried out within the project urbanAPI that is funded by the European Commission. Finally, we draw conclusions and discuss possibilities for future urban planning use cases.
  • Mit Handydaten zur smarten Stadt
    Article on futurezone.at
  • Mobile phone data as source to discover spatial activity and motion patterns [PDF]
    This paper discusses the application of mobile phone data for exploring the time-dependent population distribution and motion patterns, by detecting the dynamics within these changing distributions. Such pattern explorations make use of the mobile phone location information as proxy for personal location information. Activity and motion exploration of mobile phone data, achieving a rather high spatial resolution, requires a dense mobile phone network infrastructure. As urban environments are supplied with a more dense network of mobile ommunication transmitter stations then rural ones, urban areas are better suited for such an analysis. The contribution describes the difficulties of mobile device data extraction, the uncertainties occurring within the data sets, gives an overview of the current possibilities to make use of these data for urban planning and mobility strategies as well as for social space studies, and finally provides an short outlook about analysis and visualisation possibilities which might occur in the future.
  • Multimethod Modeling and Simulation supporting Urban Planning Decisions [PDF]
    This chapter reflects on why multimethod simulation is gaining increasing numbers of supporters. The chapter illustrates advantages and disadvantages of combining different modeling methods and presents a specialized software tool—the MASGISmo simulation platform. The theoretical discussion is supported with results obtained from different simulation projects. The chapter argues how an urban development model using a multimethod approach can support policy makers and urban planners in implementing robust and better acknowledged planning measures. Agent-based modeling (ABM) is used to enable model users to interpret and react to information from different levels of the urban spatial hierarchy within the simulation. The contribution also points out the value added by combining ABM with system dynamics modeling along with the use of geographical information system data. Finally, the chapter discusses how a new way of real stakeholder interactivity within the simulation can be achieved in order to improve the model.
  • Participatory Democracy and the Governance of Smart Cities [PDF]
    This paper was submitted to the 26th annual AESOP congress 11-15July 2012, Ankara, Turkey. It presents results from the urbanAPI pan-European research project, funded by EU FP7 (DG Information Society Smart Cities Programme). urbanAPI directly addresses the prime challenges arising from demands for more democratic and more responsive community planning, and for the greater involvement of citizens in policy-making and the governance of the city regions of Europe today.
  • Smart Cities and Urban Governance. The urbanAPI Project: Bologna Case Study [PDF]
    The urbanAPI project has been funded by the European Commission in the context of European initiatives to improve policy as a more transparent and understandable process: it is a three-year, €4 million, multi-partner collaborative project developing ICT tools to support urban governance and spatial planning in four cities across Europe. Underpinning the project is the understanding that the delivery of more sustainable cities requires the application of enhanced intelligence in urban management, to produce an effective basis for assessment of urban complexity and decision-making.
  • Towards Automated Urban Management Processes: Integrating a Domain-Specific Graphical Editor into a [PDF]
    In this paper we present the results of integrating a graphical editor for geospatial processing workflows into a 3D GIS. We use modular domain-specific languages (DSLs) that are tailored to specific application domains. The vocabulary consists of so-called recipes that are grouped into cookbooks representing the language for a certain application domain. Recipes can be reused in multiple cookbooks. This approach allows for a good usability as the user quickly becomes familiar with the domain-specific languages by recognizing common recipes. In this paper we also describe guidelines for choosing the right granularity for recipes which allows for complex rules while using simplest possible recipes. We also describe a workflow for domain-specific language design based on ontologies to identify the correct domain vocabulary. Our approach can be used to automate processing of geospatial datasets in the area of urban planning. To evaluate our approach we use the implemented graphical rule editor in a practical scenario and present it to a user group from the urbanAPI project.
  • Urban Development Simulator: An interactive decision support tool for urban planners enabling citize [PDF]
    The simulation tool is developed for the city of Ruse in remote northern Bulgaria at the Romanian border as a support for the local urban planners and politicians to evaluate high level planning decisions defined as use cases. The tool enables urban planners to estimate the impact of different urban development scenarios and visualises spatial changes through dynamic GIS maps depicting the results of the simulations. It is based on the analysis of geospatial data and uses an Agent-based modelling approach to simulate the development in the city. While other urban development simulation tools usually model urban growth in the urban fringe, the Urban Development Simulator concentrates on intra-urban development, as the City of Ruse turns out as a shrinking city which is starting to recover since the last years – reorganizing the intra-urban structure.
  • Visual Decision Support for Policy Making – Advancing Policy Analysis with Visualization [PDF]
    Today’s politicians are confronted with new information technologies to tackle complex decision making problems. In order to make sustainable decisions a profound analysis of societal problems and possible solutions (policy options) needs to be performed. In this policy analysis process different stakeholders are involved. Besides internal direct advisors of the policy makers (policy analysts) external experts from different scientific disciplines can support evidence-based decision making. Despite the alleged importance of scientific advice in the policy making process, it is observed that scientific results are often not used. In this work, a concept is described that supports the collaboration between scientists and politicians. We propose a science-policy interface that is realized by including information visualization in the policy analysis process. Therefore, we identify synergy effects between both fields and introduce a methodology for addressing the current challenges of science-policy interfaces with visualization. Finally, we describe three exemplary case studies carried out in European research projects that instantiate the concept of this approach.