My City Forecast: Urban planning communication tool for citizen with national open data

Paper by Y. Hasegawa, Y. Sekimoto, T. Seto, Y. Fukushima et al in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems: “In urban management, the importance of citizen participation is being emphasized more than ever before. This is especially true in countries where depopulation has become a major concern for urban managers and many local authorities are working on revising city master plans, often incorporating the concept of the “compact city.” In Japan, for example, the implementation of compact city plans means that each local government decides on how to designate residential areas and promotes citizens moving to these areas in order to improve budget effectiveness and the vitality of the city. However, implementing a compact city is possible in various ways. Given that there can be some designated withdrawal areas for budget savings, compact city policies can include disadvantages for citizens. At this turning point for urban structures, citizen–government mutual understanding and cooperation is necessary for every step of urban management, including planning.

Concurrently, along with the recent rapid growth of big data utilization and computer technologies, a new conception of cooperation between citizens and government has emerged. With emerging technologies based on civic knowledge, citizens have started to obtain the power to engage directly in urban management by obtaining information, thinking about their city’s problems, and taking action to help shape the future of their city themselves (Knight Foundation, 2013). This development is also supported by the open government data movement, which promotes the availability of government information online (Kingston, Carver, Evans, & Turton, 2000). CityDashboard is one well-known example of real-time visualization and distribution of urban information. CityDashboard, a web tool launched in 2012 by University College London, aggregates spatial data for cities around the UK and displays the data on a dashboard and a map. These new technologies are expected to enable both citizens and government to see their urban situation in an interface presenting an overhead view based on statistical information.

However, usage of statistics and governmental data is as yet limited in the actual process of urban planning…

To help improve this situation and increase citizen participation in urban management, we have developed a web-based urban planning communication tool using open government data for enhanced citizen–government cooperation. The main aim of the present research is to evaluate the effect of our system on users’ awareness of and attitude toward the urban situation. We have designed and developed an urban simulation system, My City Forecast (http://mycityforecast.net,) that enables citizens to understand how their environment and region are likely to change by urban management in the future (up to 2040)….(More)”.