URBANAGE explored how to make cities more age-friendly using technology.

This project started in 2021, ended in January 2024 and received support from 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 investigated 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.

Two Flemish pilot cases

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.

URBANAGE pilootcases

Local government wants to understand more quickly what facilities are needed in what places for elderly people.

Case 1: the Green Comfort Index

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:

  • air quality
  • noise
  • heat stress and shadow
  • natural infrastructure: green (plants, trees, ...) and blue (water)
  • accessibility
  • presence of street furniture: banks, tables, public toilets, street lighting, ...
URBANAGE Green Comfort Index

Combined, those parameters lead to one number: the Green Comfort Index, a score that indicates how comfortable a city location feels, specifically for elderly residents. The Green Comfort Index is the result of a complex calculation – we used artificial intelligence for both the compilation of the individual data sets and the calculation itself. 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 was a dynamic map (model) 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.

URBANAGE Green Comfort Index kaart

These can be used by older residents immediately when they move into the city. Along with the model, several components have also been developed to support various simulations, which policy makers can use to develop scenarios to simulate the effect of, for example, climate measures on comfort levels.

This helps (local) governments and other policymakers/planners to form a vision, a strategy and ultimately spatial planning.

Watch the video of the first case below:

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Case 2: planning services for the elderly

The second case uses two available public datasets to map characteristics of the population for policymakers:

  1. age distribution
  2. mobility limitations

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.

Partners involved

URBANAGE dienstverlening

Watch the video of the second case below:

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From Finland to Spain

The URBANAGE project involved a maximum number of stakeholders, such as the European Federation of Older Persons. From our homebase in Flanders, we worked within URBANAGE with the Finnish Helsinki – a trendsetter when it comes to smart cities – and the Spanish Santander.