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Integrated geospatial decision support tool for infrastructure and urban development

Significant developments in geospatial data capture, management, analytics and simulation modelling now make it feasible to generate scenarios of integrated urban development, building layouts and infrastructure requirements at an unprecedented level of spatial granularity.

To be routinely used in urban and infrastructure planning, these innovations need to be incorporated and integrated into spatial decision support and visualisation tools that can be used by planning practitioners. The aim of this project is to develop a pilot spatial decision support toolset to achieve this, building on the nationally-important work completed by the UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC), of which Arup is a partner.

The toolset will be configured to allow planners to investigate different spatial scenarios of urban development, building layout and infrastructure network provision in order to develop evidence-based approaches to long-term sustainable urban development plans. A series of urban planning scenarios will be investigated, ranging from regional strategic infrastructure planning as part of a macro-scale economic plan, to more localised planning for towns, cities and villages. These will be used to appraise the applicability and value of the toolset in providing useful evidence to support the planning of resilient and sustainable long-term urban development and provision of infrastructure.

This project is funded under Arup’s Global Research Challenge 2016-17.

Urbanisation and extreme weather events are amongst the drivers for retrofitting and masterplanning cities to be more resilient. A key aspect of increasing the resilience of cities is the development of long-term sustainable and optimal spatial plans to accommodate future urban growth. Urban population growth and the housing and infrastructure networks required to accommodate it have historically been poorly integrated into existing urban infrastructure. The increasing availability of fine-scale geospatial data for cities and technical developments in analytical modelling of urban growth and infrastructure network analytics, mean that is has become a realistic ambition to develop integrated, spatial, decision support tools to address these issues. Such tools can enable more holistic planning and delivery of sustainable urban development and infrastructure services and networks.

The insight gained from this project will be used to develop a set of recommendations of how data analysis and modelling integrated within a spatial decision support tool can be extended into the future and embedded within the planning and infrastructure delivery teams to aid strategic decision making.


Whether developing a strategic infrastructure plan for a city or region to support economic development, or developing the technical evidence base for an area action plan, or testing the infrastructure implications of a major urban development, the ability to support it with an evidenced-based technical support dashboard will be hugely valuable to stakeholders, clients and practitioners.