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Big Data and visualisation tools to tackle urban planning and mobility

EU-backed research sheds light on the extent of Big Data use within public sector organisations. The findings will contribute to the development of a framework for sustainable policy decisions.
Big Data and visualisation tools to tackle urban planning and mobility
It’s widely acknowledged that the analysis of large amounts of data, Big Data, could provide considerable insight and opportunities for addressing societal challenges from health to security to transport. Yet, its full potential remains untapped, particularly in public sector decision-making. The EU-funded PoliVisu project aims to address this by evolving the traditional public policymaking cycle.

As explained on the PoliVisu project website, it “enhances public involvement and support in urban policy making, by equipping decision makers with the skills and tools – from open (geo) data processing to advanced visualisations – to use big data for collaborative policy experimentation.” To start developing a structure for using such data within current policymaking cycles, PoliVisu recently conducted a survey. This was aimed at mapping public sector data literacy across Europe. It covered local governments and regional authorities.

According to the findings posted on the project website, big data is perceived positively. The majority of respondents said they use it at the level of individual units or departments. However, the wider application across different areas of policymaking appears to be limited, the survey showed. “The lack of long-term big data strategy; established frameworks for quality, privacy and confidentiality; dedicated training programs; and organisation-wide awareness of how exactly big data can help in different areas are among the main impeding factors highlighted by the participants.” The respondents rated volume as being the most important aspect of Big Data, followed by variety and process.

The ongoing PoliVisu (Policy Development based on Advanced Geospatial Data Analytics and Visualisation) project is working with three cities to address problems linked to smart mobility and urban planning. Using the tools of PoliVisu, cities will test a variety of policy hypotheses with stakeholders using local data sets. These include road sensor data on traffic flows, historic accident data, traffic light data and pedestrian data to visually simulate potential impacts.

Pilot sites

In the case of Issy-les-Moulineaux in France, PoliVisu hopes to create an “easy to use visualisation toolkit” to predict and follow in real time congestion on road segments. It will help users make the right decisions and allow them to adopt more sustainable practices to reduce congestion. In Ghent, Belgium, the project will explore the mobility behaviour of students in Flanders and use the data to contribute to innovative regional policymaking. The expected outcome of the project for Pilsen in the Czech Republic is efficient coordination of road works in the city. This will be achieved by a traffic prediction tool that is based on “automated real-time recalculation of the city’s traffic model after a traffic issue is submitted through a city-manager dashboard.” An example of policy visualisation created by PoliVisu technology in Pilsen is the traffic intensity application. It displays the expected traffic situation in the city in 1-hour intervals during the period from May 2017 to November 2018. The traffic volume information is derived from the city’s traffic model and takes into account roadworks that are ongoing on the selected day. PoliVisu partners believe the visualisation helps policymakers to better plan roadworks in the city.

For more information, please see:
PoliVisu project website

Source: Based on project information and media reports

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