March 24, 2023

City ticket Rotterdam. Credit: TU Delft

People in deprived urban areas generally have fewer services available than residents in wealthier areas. They have less access to urban infrastructure such as pharmacies, libraries, sports clubs and even public transport in their neighbourhood. Reversing this trend is a priority for today’s policy makers. Researchers from TU Delft have created a new online tool “CityAccessMap” that can help them with this.

City Admission Card measures and visualizes the accessibility of urban infrastructure of several cities worldwide. The tool is available to anyone who wants to see how urban infrastructure is distributed, but is especially interesting for urban planners.

“With the tool, we want to raise awareness and encourage action by policy makers to address the inequalities for certain underprivileged communities,” said researcher Trivik Verma, assistant professor of urban science and policy involved in developing the online tool. Together with his team, their research into accessibility and socio-economic aspects of people’s well-being shows that disadvantaged communities are less accessible. It provides a framework for assessing the distribution of urban infrastructure and identifying areas where it is important to improve services.

Measuring quality of life

Today, the quality of life of urban environments is often measured in terms of accessibility: that is, the ability of city dwellers to take advantage of various services and opportunities. To design planning interventions for essential services that are distributed fairly and equitably, city planners must first assess the existing levels of accessibility in their city.

With the aim of drastically simplifying this task, Verma and fellow researchers Leonardo Nicoletti, Mikhail Sirenko created a new web application “CityAccessMap” that visualizes urban accessibility insights for almost any city in the world (i.e., any city with at least 100,000 inhabitants).

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City Admission Card

The CityAccessMap web app uses open geographic data from OpenStreetMap and publicly available population grids from the European Commission’s Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL). “Planners can use the app to see how the accessibility of various amenities is distributed across their city and its population,” said Nicoletti, the architect behind the development of CityAccessMap.

Verma: “In Rotterdam, for example, there are so many city districts that offer lower access to certain communities (see image), compared to the rest of the region. By using CityAccessMap, policymakers can get a better idea of ​​the accessibility, whether they have succeeded in improving accessibility in neighborhoods and where even more collective action is needed to reduce inequality.”

Ultimately, by looking at these insights, decision makers can better understand how close they are to achieving better accessibility outcomes for their local communities or promote greater collective action to reduce inequality.

Improving accessibility for certain communities can provide them with upward social mobility and tackle social exclusion and inequalities in cities. “That’s why it’s important to understand the nature and distribution of spatial accessibility among urban communities,” says Verma.

“And tackling spatial inequalities through data analytics shouldn’t just be feasible for well-funded metropolitan authorities like Paris or New York City, it should be possible for any planning department, regardless of their resources,” Nicoletti added. CityAccessMap now gives them the option to do this.

Related research has been published in Environment and Planning B: Urban Analysis and Urban Science.

Connection is a key factor for better accessibility via rail systems

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More information:
Leonardo Nicoletti et al, Disadvantaged communities have less access to urban infrastructure, Environment and Planning B: Urban Analysis and Urban Science (2022). DOI: 10.1177/23998083221131044

Provided by Delft University of Technology

Quote: Addressing urban inequalities with open source data (2022, October 17) retrieved October 17, 2022 from

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