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URBANAGE Advances Age-Friendly Urban Planning

In the heart of our urban landscape, URBANAGE, a transformative project has recently reached its end, setting up a precedent for age-friendly urban design worldwide. The URBANAGE project was a multi-year project aiming to find solutions for urban planning in order to cater to the needs of the elderly while promoting intergenerational harmony.

The vision of URBANAGE was to help urban planners and decision makers co-design and co-develop cities where people can retain their independence for longer. URBANAGE empowered municipalities with data-driven planning and evidence-based policy decisions, thereby enhancing urban planning strategies, especially for creating age-friendly environments and improving the quality of life for citizens, particularly older adults. This approach improved decision-making and optimised the allocation of public funds, potentially reducing future health and social service expenditures. After three years of development, the pilot cities involved have shown an advancement in urban design:

  • In Helsinki, URBANAGE has shown its potential by deploying IoT devices customized to collect data on citizens’ preferences related to bench installation and lighting adequacy. This approach empowered municipalities to make evidence-based decisions, ultimately enhancing urban planning efforts.

  • In Flanders region, URBANAGE quantified the comfort of older adults in five pilot cities, enabling them to discover comfortable spots within their city. Predictive simulations guided local policymakers and urban planners in organizing Points of Interest (POIs) optimally, based on in situ feedback from older adults. Furthermore, visualizing older adult care service needs in Ghent assists policymakers and city planners in planning new healthcare facilities, considering historical, current, and predicted data. The potential economic impact of these solutions for Flanders is significant.

  • In Santander, URBANAGE has been collaborating with older adults and the city council to enhance accessibility to new technologies. They’ve developed an age-friendly route planner tailored specifically for older residents, aiming to improve their city navigation experience. Additionally, the simulation tool for long-term urban planning developed demonstrates data-driven decision-making, utilizing existing city data and allowing for future integration of new data.

At the core of the project were innovative design, state-of-the-art open and scalable solution based on a modular approach. This solution supports the decision–making processes of municipalities in urban planning for age-friendly environments. It aligns with new economy models and considers the effects of using disruptive technologies from both the citizens’ and civil servants’ perspectives.

URBANAGE enabled technology providers, to boost their innovation by utilizing the technology offered through URBANAGE's open-source components. This empowered companies to focus on delivering high-value services to cities, aligning with the standards of both European and global markets.

By involving older residents as well as civil servants in its co-creation sessions, URBANAGE aimed to meet real citizens’ needs, foster sustainable cities and communities, and contribute to a more equal and inclusive society.

URBANAGE project might have ended but its legacy lies in its replicable model, which can be adapted by other cities aiming to become more age-friendly. As the project wraps up, it leaves behind a blueprint for building cities that not only respect the elderly but also enrich the lives of all generations.

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