Turku Open Platform
Turku Open Platform (TOP)
A pilot platform titled Turku Open Platform (TOP) was deployed eventually evolving to an interactive web interface. TOP website is currently in test- phase and it is used by urban planners, developers and other stakeholders to learn about the city space with fresh eyes, assess potentials and support negotiations. The use of interactive software platforms to assess decision-making is novel and places itself in the intersection of active public participation with top-down planning; now interventions can emerge from consensus between parties based on in-depth analysis. Other approaches include tailor-made hardware development or dynamic simulation software engines such as agent-based modelling. Besides the simplistic “making people gather in a table and discuss about the city”, the main assets of TOP rely on (1) the implementation of socially-oriented data sources in combination with objective data and complex computations, and (2) the open accessibility of the platform based on a website thus able to be used from any computer, smartphone or tablet in any location.
Complementing this last feature, a key element of TOP is real-time visualisation of users’ defined spatial extent and context-tailored indicators. The tool is designed according to two different ways of space evaluation: filtering and ranking. Filtering mode is intended to work on a single spatial area to deepen its characteristics by combining different indexes interactively, offering in-depth analysis of a single place across different layers. Ranking mode, on the contrary, aims to maintain static indexes to compare two spaces in separate user windows. In other words, while filtering mode offers a detailed description of the spatial, social and economic characteristics of a single location – understand how a place is and what a place needs – ranking mode is intended to compare two different areas to help location choice linked to decision-making – how one area is more likely of hosting a spatial intervention than the other.
Both filtering and ranking modes have the capability of allowing users to tailor the extent, scale, and visualisation parameters. The rendering engine of areas and indexes is designed to match flexible visualisation demands thus enhancing discussion and negotiation based on locative information such as where to place specific infrastructures, evaluate the need of areas to be upgraded, or providing specific intervention guidelines.
In the left panel of the user interface, indicators are grouped by the nature of their applicability, being: ‘Space’ those related to the mathematical calculations on the street network – including Space Syntax analytics – to answer questions such as how connected, how central, and how accessible streets are. ‘Activities’ gathers those indexes related to amenities and venues and their categories. The last one, ‘Popularity’ includes indexes related to values inherent to locations that potentially influence people’s preferences, such as social activeness and popularity of places. From all indexes computed, those obtained from Instagram and Foursquare are shown in Table 1. Data from different sources have been wrangled and combined to eventually compute mathematical indexes of higher complexity further from merely visualising datasets. Based on Foursquare and Instagram data, (1) Urban Network Analysis (UNA) is used to calculate the spatial relevance of places – UNA Gravity calculation – and (2) the level of Entropy in activities is calculated to extract information related to liveability and complexity of places – Shannon-Wiener entropy index.