PUBLIC SPACE DESIGN AND ASSESSMENT TOOL

  • Public Plaza in Bhubaneswar
  • Discussions and suggestions from CEO and commissioner BSCL
  • Visit to Heritage Area
  • Visit to command and control centre
  • Participatory workshop with citizens at app launch
  • Citizen participatory design workshop and app launch
  • Citizen participatory design workshop and app launch
  • Informative flyer at launch of pilot app
  • Smart city and Development Team
Context

Public spaces are important assets for any city to improve the quality of life of its citizens by providing accessible and safe places for everyone to enjoy. As urban populations begin to rise posing huge challenges for the environment and well-being of citizens, it has become important to reaffirm the need for protecting, developing and reclaiming quality public spaces in all cities. Key national frameworks and liveability index also focuses on improving access to green cover, sustainable mobility, biodiversity and urban planning (Liveability Standards in Cities 2017).One of the key aspects identified for cities was to address the need of mapping these public spaces and setting benchmarks that improves access to quality public spaces with design improvements. For the same, the team proposed a tool with framework, indicators and design components that enables different stakeholders to use it effectively.

Problem Statement

Various issues around public spaces identified during initial ideation were access and safety of Public spaces. Another aspect to be considered was inclusiveness in particular how cities can have spaces for women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities. These need to be addressed by the city with holistic assessments & design features. With an aim to improve the experience of public spaces in a city by its citizens, the key questions to be addressed are

  • How can a city provide accessible, safe and inclusive public spaces?
  • What are the components that contribute towards making great public spaces?
  • How can data be used as an effective medium to develop quality public spaces?
  • How are public space projects been addressed & undertaken in Smart Cities Mission?

A number of assessment methods, guidelines, policies are available internationally but very few attempts have been made to have a framework & tool at a national level specifically for Public Spaces. A comprehensive tool addressing how citizens and city administration can aid in better development and maintenance of public spaces was ideated.

Objective

The assessment framework and tool developed considers three primary stakeholders- Citizens, Experts and City Administration. The main objective of the tool is to provide citizens a platform to view and rate public spaces in their city based on specific parameters and a common channel so they can in turn participate in the improvement of these spaces. Along with this an expert shall be able to evaluate public spaces and identify gaps to propose interventions as well as identify design components; and the city administration can visualize the spatial distribution of various public spaces and the analysis via a dashboard. Thus, the tool envisioned the following key outcomesCitizens Rating App- A digital platform for the citizens to rate and give their feedback on different public spaces in the city. It is in the form of a simple questionnaire and rating system developed on identified parameters of each public space. Expert Assessment- A detailed checklist and scoring framework for diverse aspects of public spaces as per defined set of parameters. This will enable the city in better planning and designing of public spaces in the city. 

Project Developement

Although the tool uses universal parameters and can be used in any city, the GIS data and digital platform was a required base considered while selecting pilot city. Bhubaneswar was chosen as it had a public GIS platform (Bhubaneswar One). Also under CITIIS Challenge, Bhubaneswar was among the 15 selected cities for its proposal B-Active that aimed to activate the city’s public spaces. It also has a variety of different heritage areas, parks and open spaces. After an initial visit to various projects, meetings with BSCL CEO and stakeholders the city was finalized for a pilot. 

Expected Outcomes

The outcome of the pilot was to build a section in the existing citizen App and an online website for citizens to rate public spaces, give suggestions and view other information related to public spaces in a particular location. Through this platform:

  • Citizens will be able to easily locate different types of public spaces based on their location.
  • Citizens can find out all the facilities/amenities available at a public space.
  • City Authorities can improve and develop public spaces in a city according to the ratings and suggestions given by citizens.
  • Cities can undertake more targeted actions in upgrading and maintenance of public spaces based on ratings received for different parameters and components.
  • Expert Assessment is an easy-to-use and convenient checklist that can be referred by sector experts to develop successful public space projects.
Actual Result

The tool was integrated with the Bhubaneswar.Me app. A functional requirement document was prepared for this purpose highlighting the specific needs of the tool as well as details such as how the user (citizen) shall use the platform in a step by step mannerAdditional details and functions were added to the digital platform and App for better usability of the tool by citizens. Features such as events happening in the Park, suggestions for the particular public space and facilities provided in that location were added.  Expert Assessment List and Mapping of ExpertsThe second part of the tool was preparation of an expert assessment list for the typologies of Public Spaces identified and mentioned above in the report. The list can be used at a layman or project level as well as by technical experts for the projects. The idea of the list is to provide a clear and crisp assessment based on existing guidelines. For the purpose of this project the scope of the list was restricted to Streets and Heritage Precincts.   

Conclusion

Data related to Public Spaces at a city wide level enables urban local bodies to know the per capita availability of open spaces along with distinctions in variety and types of Public Spaces available in the city. The measurability of different aspects of public spaces leads to qualitatively analyse Public Spaces at a project and city wide level. The tool is holistically addressing these two aspects that are of data and analysis of quality public spaces and in turn consequent success of these projects. It enables a city to start identifying where the potential gaps are, which areas of the city lack quality public spaces and the specific need for improvements. The design and assessment tool for public spaces is a step to develop and improve public spaces with the help of citizens and their feedback. The city administration thus, can view these feedbacks  and take necessary actions. It is important to have coordination within different departments of the urban local bodies and development authorities to undertake improvements using the tool. The mobile application used by citizens gives real time feedback and displays the rating of public spaces.

Strategy Graphics