“YouWalk-UOS” – technology-enabled and user-centred assessment of urban open spaces

Ashraf M. Salama*, Madhavi P. Patil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose
This paper introduces the YouWalk-UOS mobile application, a tool that revolutionises the assessment of urban open spaces (UOS). The paper demonstrates how integrating real-time, on-ground observations with users’ reactions into a digital platform can transform the evaluation of urban open spaces. It seeks to address the existing shortcomings of traditional UOS assessment methods and underscore the need for innovative, adaptable and inclusive approaches.

Design/methodology/approach
Emphasizing the necessity of UOS for mental and physical health, community interaction and social and environmental resilience in cities, the methodology involves a comprehensive analysis of a number of theoretical frameworks that have historically influenced urban open space conceptualisation, design and assessment. The approach includes a critical review of traditional UOS assessment methods, contrasting them with the capabilities of the proposed YouWalk-UOS application. Building on the reviewed theoretical frameworks, the methodology articulates the application’s design, which encompasses 36 factors across three assessment domains: functional, social and perceptual and provides insights into how technology can be leveraged to offer a more holistic and participatory approach to urban space assessment.

Findings
YouWalk-UOS application represents an important advancement in urban space assessment, moving beyond the constraints of traditional methods. The application facilitates a co-assessment approach, enabling community members to actively participate in the evaluation and development of their urban environments. Findings highlight the essential role of technology in making urban space assessment more user-centred, aligning more closely with community needs and aspirations.

Originality/value
The originality lies in the focus on the co-assessment approach and integration of mobile technology into urban open space assessment, a relatively unexplored area in urban design literature. The application stands out as an innovative solution, offering a new perspective on engaging communities in co-assessing their environments. This research contributes to the discourse on urban design and planning by providing a fresh look at the intersection of technology, user engagement and urban space assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalOpen House International
Early online date25 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Mar 2024

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