Analytics helps assess Singapore’s ‘walkability’

Location-based analytics technology is helping assess Singapore’s ‘walkability’ and ‘cyclability’.  

The Future Cities Laboratory (FCL), a research center set up by ETH Zurich and the National Research Foundation in Singapore focusing on sustainable future cities, has used the technology not only to assess how ‘walkable’ Singapore is today but also to improve walkability in the future.

“Most people refer to walkability as how far you can go and what can be reached within a 5- or 10-minute walk – however walkability is not only about the distance to daily amenities,” Michael van Eggermond, a Ph.D. researcher at FCL said. “The quality of the urban environment has a tremendous impact on how people perceive walking and directly influences people’s decision on whether to go on foot or take a car or other means of transport.

He said FCL’s collaboration with the Urban Redevelopment Authority hopes to determine what people value when walking in Singapore’s dense city center and tropical climate and to enable planners to better plan for walkability.

The Engaging Mobility team of FCL combined detailed information on the pedestrian environment with observations of actual behavior and dedicated surveys to find out what affects people’s behavior in relation to walking and how it is affected.

Using a mobile GIS survey platform called Esri Collector, the FCL team was able to collect data and integrate it with their central database in order to create compelling visualizations of pedestrian networks. 

A Walkability Index was created to measure how useful, comfortable and interesting it is to walk through certain areas. The walkability index was implemented as a newly developed tool for ArcMap and called the ‘Pedestrian Accessibility Tool’.

FCL mobility researcher Tanvi Maheshwari also used Esri City Engine, an advanced 3D city design application for creating, editing and sharing digital 3D building models to effectively model Singapore’s streets. 

This allows her to analyze the demand for cycling infrastructure and identify variables—such as safety and comfort of cycling—that would make people prefer cycling more.
Esri Singapore CEO Thomas Pramotedham said location-based analytics equips organizations with the unique capability to seamlessly integrate and analyze data from multiple business systems to create a dynamic map-based view of information.

“This allows research centers such as FCL to better examine sample data, run simulations, create customized interpolation models, and generate unique insights that support more informed decision making,” he said.