Mapping vulnerability in cities: a decision tool for investment

Madrid, Spain has a goal of making its municipal information more accessible and transparent to its citizens. It has open databases where multiple levels and types of information can be accessed. This project used data for one city district, Usera.

The research is configured to support the city in gaining a better understanding of the quality, format and accessibility of the databases, and to develop a GIS (geographical information system) tool to allow visualisation of the most vulnerable areas within a district to facilitate better planning and more effective intervention and investment for those areas.

The vulnerability of an urban district reflects a mix of factors that affect all or part of the population.

The Atlas de Barrios Vulnerables en España identifies contributory factors within the categories of environmental, social and economic conditions.

In this GIS-based study, data layers for each category were classified as being sources of either negative or positive impact, or indicators of the vulnerability of the population.

Using the GIS tool, complex spatial data can be represented in a single map that is readily understandable by decision makers, helping investments to be directed toward the most critical areas. The GIS tool also enables monitoring of subsequent performance.

This research has established a visually-based mapping tool to support municipalities in identifying the most vulnerable areas within a district in order to better target interventions and investment.