Getting a picture! Spatial information innovating the planning process in remote rural areas

Authors: Charlotte Pusch*, Hamburg University of Technology - Institute for Transport Planning and Logistics
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Transportation Geography, Planning Geography
Keywords: Planning Instruments, Accessibility, Services of General Interest, Intermunicipal Cooperation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8229, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Remote rural areas in Germany suffer from demographic change: the population is shrinking, facilities like primary schools, doctors or supermarkets are closing down. Thus, the responsibility of German municipalities to supply the public with such services of general interest (SGI) is becoming a challenge on the local level, intensified by decreasing municipal budgets and tax revenues.

Hence, SGI are rather a regional planning problem. Since not every municipality can provide social infrastructure locally, social innovations as well as inter-municipal cooperation gain in importance. A common concept to overcome these challenges is accessibility – meaning the simplicity with which the public can reach SGI with different modes of transport. If services cannot be offered locally, accessible locations need to be identified to cluster SGI and stimulate synergies for social innovation.

But how can accessible locations in rural areas be identified and social innovations initiated? Municipal planners need detailed spatial information to do so!

Using a design thinking approach, a planning instrument for the public sector was developed in close collaboration with end-users and developers to support formal and informal planning processes with spatial information. Heterogeneous user groups are able to carry out simple accessibility analysis from today as well as scenarios estimating the effects of closing a facility or opening up a new one.

The tool’s usability and availability to all municipalities within a region aims to support formal, interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary planning processes and aims to stimulate inter-municipal cooperation based on spatial information and cross-border analysis.

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