Davao included in New York U study on public spaces

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 February) – Davao City has been chosen, along with two cities in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, for a pilot study on public open space to be conducted by the New York University sometime in April or May 2017.

In a letter addressed to City Mayor Sara Duterte dated January 13, 2017 but shared to MindaNews only on Monday, Dr. Shlomo Angel, professor of city planning and director at the NYU Urban Expansion Program, said the study aims to come out with a complete digital map of all the public green spaces in the city, including the names and an assessment of the quality of such spaces.

“A proportion of this research will be performed at our satellite imagery analysis facility – the Urban Expansion observatory, located in Mumbai, India. Once we have identified all of the possible public open spaces using satellite imagery, our plan is to visit them in person and conduct a survey with the help of a questionnaire,” he wrote.

He said the “questionnaire will measure the quality of these open spaces, their use by the public, as well as access they provide for various groups, such as women, children, and elderly and disabled citizens.”

He added the results of the study will include an assessment of the safety, level of maintenance and cleanliness of the space.

Angel asked the City Planning and Development Office to share its knowledge and assured that the results will be useful to the development of the city.

He said the pilot study, headed by his colleague Patrick Lamson-Hall, is part of a larger project that will be conducted in 200 cities as part of the urban component measurement of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN.

“Practically, our plan is to engage MBA students from the Stern School of Business of NYU in what is called a Stern Signature Project. A select team of talented and ambitious students will work with our staff for a semester on  refining the methodology, and we will then travel to Davao City to conduct a survey of the parks and open spaces,” he said.

Interface Development Interventions acting executive director Chinkie Peilino-Golle said they support the study because it aligns with their promotion of developing open spaces into green parks.

“Their study will help Davao map the existing open spaces and hopefully, it will be used to develop projects for open spaces. We want to have scientific basis on how do we move forward in developing more green spaces in the city,” she said.

Angel said the NYU Urban Expansion Program recently completed a study of a global sample of 200 cities that focused on measuring the quantity of conversion of lands to urban use that had taken place over the last 25 years, and gathered information on the quality of urban layouts in lands that underwent this conversion.

The work lasted for two years and culminated in the launch of the Atlas of Urban Expansion 2016 Edition at the Habitat III Conference in Quioto, Ecuador.

“The Atlas is a s set of maps and metric pertaining to the patterns of global urban growth and development and the challenges facing cities around the world,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)