WS 2.5 The Walkability Planning Support System: An evidence-based tool to design healthy communities

Workshop provider(s)

C.I.J. Boulange*1, H. Badland1, C. Pettit2, B. Giles-Corti1
1RMIT, Australia, 2UNSW, Australia

Workshop description

Planning Support Systems (PSSs) are spatial simulation tools designed for measuring, mapping, or simulating impacts arising from urban development. There is a potential to apply PSS to improve understanding of the relationship between the built environment, walkability and health, and foster collaboration between researchers and urban planners in promoting healthy built environments. The Walkability PSS was developed for that purpose.

The Walkability PSS is computer based tool that allows users to virtually sketch precinct plans on a digital map using a tabletop interface. The tool estimates the probability that an adult walks for transport using information from spatial features such as roads, land use types or public transport services. The estimate updates in real time and is displayed in an interactive chart. 

The following are some key applications for the Walkability PSS:

Test and sketch precinct structure plans for new communities i.e., sketch where the housing blocks will be located in relation to the commercial areas, and then rapidly assess whether or not measurable policy requirements are met.

Evaluate the potential health risk (i.e., low walkability) related to urban growth scenario. In an earlier evaluation study, the Walkability PSS was tested by a group of professional urban planners. The study showed that the urban planners engaged positively with the Walkability PSS. They rated it as practice relevant and could envision a number of applications in greenfield (i.e., undeveloped land) and brownfield (i.e., land previously used and undergoing redevelopment) developments.

The aim of the presentation is to introduce an innovative tool for guiding and managing urban growth as well as engaging with stakeholders to shape growth. The presentation will involve a live demonstration to demonstrate how to use the technology and how it works in a real case-study.

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