URBANAGE explores how to make cities more age-friendly using technology.
This project is supported by the European Horizon 2020 program.
URBANAGE stands for Enhanced URBAN planning for AGE-friendly cities through disruptive technologies. The project is a joint initiative of the Digitaal Vlaanderen agency and imec. They investigate how to make cities more suited to the elderly – using disruptive technologies such as digital twins, big data analytics and artificial intelligence. Without losing track of legal aspects.
From the outset, we organized several cocreation workshops with different target groups, such as policy makers of local and regional governments, and senior citizens. Starting from these results, we developed two pilot cases.
The first case assesses how comfortable urban public space is for the elderly. Through workshops, we decided on the parameters: what’s important to senior citizens when they go to the city? That resulted in this list:
Combined, those parameters lead to one number: the Green Comfort Index. It’s the result of a complex calculation – we use artificial intelligence for the composition of the individual datasets as well as for the actual computation. Yet we give the last word to people instead of computers: senior citizens and experts have access to the process and can finetune it.
The result is a map that represents the variation of the Green Comfort Index within the city’s public spaces. Senior citizens can effortlessly use it when they venture into town. And it helps local governments and other policy makers/planners to form a vision, a strategy, and eventually a spatial planning.
The second case uses two available public datasets to map characteristics of the population:
The combination of these data reveals where older people with limited mobility live. And by analyzing current and historical data, and including them in simulations, we can predict how the situation will evolve. By linking this knowledge with information about available services – such as the distribution of pharmacies and care services – policy makers and planners can immediately spot the missing pieces, and add them to the puzzle. It enables them to timely anticipate the problems that come with an ageing demographic.
The URBANAGE project started in 2021 and will end early 2024. It involves a maximum number of stakeholders, such as the European Federation of Older Persons. From our homebase in Flanders, we work within URBANAGE with the Finnish Helsinki – a trendsetter when it comes to smart cities – and the Spanish Santander.