Urban Intelligence: How Are Cities Using Data to Improve Decision-making?

The pandemic saw cities and regions make innovative use of evidence, data, modelling, and other forms of knowledge when formulating their responses. This event will highlight examples of good practice, lessons learned, and other takeaways for urban and regional policymakers. Questions the event will consider include: How did city policymakers use intelligence to take decisions during the pandemic? What worked and why? What was less successful? Which lessons can cities apply to future crises and everyday decision-making? Speakers will include: Maryanne Schretzman, Executive Director, Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence, City of New York Mike Eakins, Intelligence and Policy Manager, Leeds City Council Dr. Aurel von Richthofen, Arup Germany, ETH-Singapore Centre Mar Santamaria, Co-Founder, 300.000 km/s, Barcelona


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International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO)

Designing Futures with Cities lecture at ETSAB-UPC

Mar Santamaria and Pablo Martínez, founders of 300.000 km/s, will present, at ETSAB Barcelona School of Architecture - UPC, their latest projects and will talk about cities and how to improve them for a better future on Wednesday 27th of April 2022 at 13:30h. This lecture is part of the MSC Sustainable Urban Mobility Transitions, SUMT (EIT-Urban Mobility).


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ZARCH Call for Papers – Form and Behaviour: Modelling Urbanity

ZARCH is currently accepting the submission of articles for their consideration, following the external Peer Review process as described on this website. They should address the topic for the upcoming issue.

Issue 19: "Form and behaviour: modelling urbanity"
Deadline for submission of articles: May 1st, 2022
Expected publication date: December 2022


Call Text:

The second volume of Ildefons Cerdà’s Teoría General de la Urbanización —a work that defines urban planning as a science for the first time— includes an extensive set of statistics and property registers of Barcelona that served as a basis for the design of the city extension plan and made it possible to establish relationships between urban conditions and their impact on mortality and to argue and justify the need to expropriate a generous amount of land to make new roads. Years later, under the motto ‘survey before planning,’ Patrick Geddes introduced in Cities in Evolution the need for observation and profound knowledge of the city and the territory prior to any urban planning action. This view accepting urban planning as scientific knowledge was conditioned by the method. Later, in 1970, Manuel de Solà-Morales emphasised in La ciudad y los juegos that ‘urban planning, as a social science, suffers from the difficulties of working with an ambiguously defined body with minimal testing capacity’. The aim of this statement was to establish the need to build abstract city models based on logical and mathematical formulations that would act as laboratories of reality where acting principles would be validated and not just the result of ideological apriorisms. Although this line of work was clearly identified by Solà-Morales, he did not continue it; instead he focused his activity on the knowledge of city morphology.

These models —based on visionary concepts— required being data fed, at that time very limited, and processed by statistical methodologies yet to be developed that could only work thanks to today’s information technologies. In the same year, 1970, Tobler published his law on ‘spatial correlation.’ Years later, in the same decade, the first satellite networks for geolocalisation were launched and the first GIS programmes began to be developed. These would later lead to today’s land management tools. Nowadays, 50 years later, we wear GPS sensors in our pockets (mobile phones), we have developed a high computational processing capacity that is also the basis for new statistical methodologies (spatial clustering techniques or predictive statistics), and we have a multitude of high-precision and easily accessible data that allow us to systematically model the planet urban continuum. These include, among others, Open Street Maps, Global Human Settlement Layer, daily satellite images of the entire planet with 30 cm. per pixel resolution or casual data obtained by social networks, real estate portals or others, which are collected through the internet by robots that track them.

Nowadays, several research groups explore the use of these data and methodologies for developing models that serve as laboratories of reality for describing, discovering, predicting or simulating our urban environment. These laboratories offer the possibility of answering questions that urban planning has been trying to answer for years and formulating new ones as a result of the expansion of the discipline that redefines its limits when observing and measuring a reality that is increasingly complex. As Sennett states in Building and Dwelling, we need to understand this complexity not only from the form of the city, but also from the behaviour of its citizens. This is how today’s urban analysis enriches traditional morphological approaches with so many other non-visible variables of the city, characterises infrastructures through their use and not only through their size, provides the city plan with temporal features, explains mobility flows and also economic and knowledge-related flows, and outlines social organisation forms that go beyond administrative delimitations. A new look at the urban environment resulting from the knowledge and infrastructures developed in recent years.

This new look is a valuable description in the current historical context in which we must reorder cities to meet the challenge of climate adaptation. This implies a radical change with consequences also for social justice, health and care, emerging economies or new participatory mechanisms, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the international and national urban agendas that support them. These transdisciplinary issues will require diagnoses, simulations and evaluations capable of generating complex urban knowledge that, for the first time, can be globally reproduced and replicated.

This issue is an invitation to:
- show what these new methodologies can explain to our cities: case studies of the use of data for urban diagnosis at several scales, with documentation of their methodologies;
- discuss the different methodological approaches outlining the evolution of the research line in this framework;
- study cases that apply this new knowledge to urban development practice: either in planning or in managing urban services;
- reflect on how the cities resulting from all these processes can be better than the cities we know today: the challenges, dangers and opportunities guiding their use.
This is not a new paradigm but rather a glimpse of the changes that the discipline of urban planning has fostered for years.

Mar Santamaría-Varas, Pablo Martínez-Díez, Sergio García-Pérez


Ana Badenas (project manager at 300.000 km/s) will participate in the panel A Smart City that Helps Improving of the Ágora PEPRI, presenting the talk To Observe and Quantify to Know How to Think the City on Thursday 11th of November at 6.30 pm.
The conference is organised by the Estella-Lizarra City Council at the Espacio Cultural Los Llanos in Estella-Lizarra.


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Àgora d’Urbanisme 9 de novembre 2021

The third edition of l’Àgora d’Urbanisme will take place next Tuesday 9th of November, at the COAC headquarters. This annual event aims to consolidate itself as a reference space for urban planning activity in Catalonia, a meeting between technicians and managers at different levels, building a catalog of outstanding experiences.

The Àgora d'Urbanisme was born in 2018 as a result of an agreement between the Agrupació d'Arquitectes Urbanistes de Catalunya (AAUC), the Col·legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC) and the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Generalitat de Catalunya (DTES).

Attendance is free prior registration:
In-person registration:
Online registration:


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Presentation of Quaderns Biennale 2021

Presentation of Quaderns AIR/ARIA/AIRE, catalog of the Catalonia in Venice project, the Catalan pavilion of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, with the Dean of the COAC, Assumpció Puig and the Director of the Institut Ramon Llull, Francesc Serés.
Air/Aria/Aire is curated by Olga Subirós and includes an urban research developed by 300.000 km/s, with contributions of Maria Arnal, Míriam Garcia, Josep Perelló, Xavier Querol, Jordi Sunyer, et al.
Janet Sanz, director of the Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility Area and Second Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, Mercè Rius, General Director of Transport and Mobility of the Ministry of Digital Policies and Territory of the Generalitat de Catalunya, and Mar Santamaria and Pablo Martínez, co-founders of 300.000 km/s will participate in the sessions moderated by Olga Subirós.
Online registrations here
In-person registrations here


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Related projects

Mercè at VII Encuentro Cultura y Ciudad

The project Mercè has been selected to be presented and exhibited at Tabakalera in Donostia on the 13th and 14th of october in the context of the VII Encuentro Cultura y Ciudad. This edition focus the future of culture in the context of post-pandemic crisis and the formulation of concrete proposals for the future.


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Related projects

La ciudad que queremos / The City We Want

The International Congress is a biennial activity of the Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad in Pamplona that wants to promote a debate on architecture and the city, overcoming the barriers that limit this discipline to the architectural field.
We will discuss about the 'Shared city and public goods' in the framework of the session 'Shared city and nearby city' on Friday September 10 at 10 am. The congress will also feature the sociologist Saskia Sassen, the Nobel laureate economist Mohan Munasinghe or the Pritzker prize-winning architect Anne Lacaton.


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Engaged with better cities