Spatial Impact

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SIA-City: A Spatial Tool to Support Integrated Decision-making in Cities

This research project develops a spatial tool to support integrated decision-making in cities – SIA-City. It combines social impact assessment with spatial data science and participatory mapping to evaluate and monitor inequalities in cities. This three-fold framework helps with understanding the patterns of urban inequalities and how inequality impacts people.

Around the world, growing concerns about rapid urbanisation have been met with calls to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. At the same time, planners face the challenge of how to operationalise these broad policy calls. To bridge this gap between practice and policy, this project proposes a spatial tool to support integrated decision-making in cities – SIA-City. SIA-City combines social impact assessment with spatial data science and participatory mapping to evaluate and monitor inequalities in cities. Through the lens of social impact assessment, SIA-City represents the numerous activities taking place in urban areas in terms of social impacts.

Social impacts can be either positive or negative. For example, a new airport may improve the connectivity of the city to other places, which is generally positive, but the noise of the airplanes will negatively affect the local population. In the SIA-City framework, positive impacts are represented by measures of accessibility to e.g. urban amenities or public goods. In contrast, negative impacts are represented by exposure measures to e.g. noise, pollution or climate change risks. Furthermore, social impacts in urban areas are often cumulative: they are the result of incremental changes to the urban environment caused by multiple human activities and natural processes. To understand the complex dynamics of cumulative impacts, SIA-City monitors social impacts in both space and time.

SIA-City also promotes community engagement via participatory mapping. Participatory mapping allows the involvement of citizens in constructing the baseline for evaluation and monitoring, developing visions and scenarios for the city or neighbourhood, and facilitates the follow-up and monitoring of social outcomes caused by urban interventions.

Key Findings

  • Understand how positive and negative impacts are distributed among social groups: Who has access to urban resources and who is exposed to externalities linked to urban development?
  • Involve the community and understand the experiences, needs and aspirations of people through participatory mapping
  • Assessment of different policy scenarios and visions for the city and neighbourhoods
  • Monitor cumulative social impacts in space and over time

We are seeking partnerships with municipalities, citizen groups or community-led research and implementation organisations to develop and implement SIA-City in practice. Get in touch if you are interested in opportunities for collaborations.

Juliana E. Goncalves
Juliana E. Goncalves
Postdoc Researcher

With a quantitative background and an analytic mind, I collaborate with people across disciplines and sectors to develop solutions for a sustainable and just society. I believe it is possible to transform the world.

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