Smart Pedestrian Net is a project funded by JPI Urban Europe, ERA-NET Cofund Smart Urban Futures Call. The project aims to assess the urban conditions provided to pedestrians considering a wide range of criteria.
The innovative mobile application Smart Pedestrian Assistant (SPA) was designed, developed and published on Google Play as Android application. It was designed as part of the bigger novel urban digital ecosystem to support citizens and tourists’ walkability and their engagement and participation in the municipality activities to improve quality of life. The SPA introduces new set of applications and services for both pedestrians and municipality administrations in the cities and is available at Google Play for wide public use after the ongoing comprehensive tests in Bologna, Porto and Vienna.
The increasing amount of health problems in the world like heart disease, diabetes and obesity can be traced back to the full dependence on automobiles and sedentary lifestyles in new generations, in addition to the poor land use developments and lack of pedestrian planning in cities. Based on previous research, it has been found that physical exercise is the best remedy. Consequently, in recent years, urban planners and public health professionals have been trying to integrate between health and the built environment through comprehensive planning by linking traditional notions of planning with health themes. (Muhlbach, 2012)
By using one of the primary and oldest forms of transportation—walking—and introducing pedestrians’ planning into the city, urban planners and public health professionals can promote wellness, physical activity and increase the quality of life. ‘Walkability is a concept which is known as a measurement of the pedestrian-friendly degree of an area. Urban designer and planners recently focused on walkability to make a sustained environment for communicating, recreation, and shopping by the pedestrian base.' (Rafiemanzelat, Emadi & Kamali, 2016).
Walking has numerous social, individual and environmental benefits. It can change the moods of humans, decrease depression, and improve psychological well-being. It can also increase social capital, and social injustice, as well as saving the environment and reduce the greenhouse emissions.
Even though there are plans to increase walkability in cities, there are problems that are to face this proposal. For starters, people have negative perceptions on walking, it may be due to a bad experience or just the rejection of the idea, and one of the leading factors is the transformations in the built environment of cities and the increase of urban sprawls leading to the use of more vehicles. People could be less attracted to walking due to numerous reasons including the absence of sidewalks, lack of accessibility, concern about crime and walking at night and the absence of specific destinations within walking distance like work or stores.
Nevertheless, with every new initiative, there are obstacles, but that shouldn’t be something that stands in the way of creating better-built environments and thriving for healthier lives. Planning strategies could work both on small scales, like street and detail scale and large scales like planning scale. Small-scale improvements could include improving pedestrian access to a neighbourhood bus stop, increasing the number of trees, bushes and flowers and improving the quality of pavement surfaces. While large-scale improvements could be regional or statewide master plan for walking and bicycling, avoiding blind footpaths, creating squares only for pedestrians and preventing the formation of large areas that are inaccessible.
Smart Pedestrian Net is a project funded by JPI Urban Europe, ERA-NET Cofund Smart Urban Futures Call. The project aims to assess the urban conditions provided to pedestrians considering a wide range of criteria; define planning policies to improve walkability and street connectivity by involving stakeholders; develop a pedestrian navigation system for defining routes. By using a GIS multi-criteria and space syntax analysis to assess the urban conditions and street connectivity; multi-actor participatory approach with stakeholders, surveys and workshops; real-time data in the navigation system and website to publish findings.
Expected results and impacts: Increased understanding of the walkability by providing planning policies and management tools and help decision-makers in improving walkability; developing a mobile navigation system to help pedestrian in selecting routes according to with their preferences.
University of Minho, Portugal
The University of Bologna,
European University Cyprus
Project's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Smart.Pedestrian.Net/