Digital Placemaking

Access to shared data is crucial for informing and improving tech-enabled urban innovation. The primary challenge regarding the use of big data in cities is how it is interpreted – both intelligently and securely. Principled use of data allied with best-practice data security is paramount. As a prerequisite we have ensured that stringent and robust processes are in place to ensure thorough prior anonymization and aggregation of all datasets. 

“Digital Placemaking” is a term we coined to encompass a set of data-driven processes harnessing place and people data analytics. Underway for 3 years, the endeavour is to craft a toolkit for spotting emerging urban patterns i.e location intelligence if you will, and to capitalize on them through design that benefits all stakeholders. Our pilot projects are showing huge promise.

First, using spatial pedestrian network analysis allows us to compute accessibility and predict flows for walkability and people-centric sustainable transport. A window can be opened onto the underlying dynamics of the intensely global yet inherently local layered system that is today’s urban network. Second, employing a geo-located anonymized dataset of footfall and journey data, we can identify demographics, foot traffic and use pattern heatmaps in and around a location.

With these in tandem, we are developing weighted network analysis tools to create calibrated models of footfall at a neighbourhood level, which are used to test the impact of changes to layout or balance of uses.