UrbanAge convened a broad consortium of cities, digital experts, and researchers to launch an inclusive urban planning initiative towards more age-friendly cities
This week marks the first meeting of the UrbanAge project - an innovative and collaborative pan-European approach to enhancing urban planning.
Europeans are living longer than ever, changing the societal make-up in our cities and regions. The number of older people living in urban environments is growing at an exponential scale, whilst working-age populations are shrinking. Its clear to Governments everywhere that this demographic shift presents new multi-dimensional challenges around health, mobility, economics and the physical environment. How we create age and gender friendly cities becomes an urgent policy problem. One that is tackled by UrbanAge.
Facilitated by Consortium Leader, Roberto Di Bernardo of Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A, the Horizon 2020 funded project kicked-off its mission to explore and experiment with new Digital Twin technology to enhance urban planning processes and help citizens enjoy a good quality of life into their own age.
Digital Twins are a synchronised, virtual representation of the real word, connecting and mirroring what is happening in near real-time. They provide a holistic understanding of situations and enable simulation modelling of the impact of different actions which can help urban planners and policy makers experiment safely with ideas and make optimal decisions about services, and policy actions.
"The UrbanAge Digital Twins provide a unique opportunity to break down existing data silos, and build more inclusive and resilient European cities for all" said Di Bernardo. "With advances in technology, and political will, there is no reason why Digital Twins cannot support complex, multi-faceted, age-aware decisions which create healthy and happy places where people can age gracefully".
More than 30 participants, including the pilot cities of Helsinki (Finland), Santander (Spain) and the Region of Flanders (Belgium) shared unique challenges experienced by older citizens, including access and knowledge of IT, and the perception of the use of personal data. Barriers which should not be underestimated.
There is a long journey ahead, from stake-holder engagement to regulatory framework navigation, technical integration and pilot testing. For regular updates on progress, follow UrbanAge on Twitter or sign up for the Newsletter.