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Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-information Management

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The mission of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management is to empower society with specialized knowledge and expertise on spatial and temporal interactions between people, land tenure, land use, urban systems and the underlying governance processes to support inclusive planning and decision-making

  • Profile
    • Mission

      The Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management (PGM) is responsible for developing capacity of organisations that are involved in the field of Geo-Information Management for multi-level governance of urban regions, primarily for and in countries that are technologically and/or economically less developed (LDC's)

      The PGM department contributes to ITC's mission by developing capacity for the provision of (geo-) information to solve problems related to the management of space and resources (in the urban region), in an institutional setting (governance). This is done through a mix of education, research, advisory services and information dissemination, within a worldwide network of academic and professional partners and in the framework of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

      The department also contributes to the strategies of the main organisations of Official Development Assistance that either focus on development to be achieved (the what) or how development should be achieved (the how). The United Nations has defined Millennium Development Goals, (the what) for the year 2015 (United Nations, 2000), each goal having specific targets. The PGM department has selected specific "what's" and "how's". On the one end, the Millennium Development Goals are our context (poverty alleviation, environment protection and socio-economic development), on the other hand, capacity development of organisations that are involved in the field of geo-information management for multi-level governance of urban regions is our focus. Most of the department's activities contribute to the focus but only to parts of the context.

    • Market

      The department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management client's market is acting towards the achievement of higher civil society goals related to poverty alleviation, environment protection and socio-economic development in urban regions as expressed in the Millennium Development Goals, the World Bank Urban Development programme, the UN-Habitat Global Campaigns for Secure Tenure and on Urban Governance and the action lines of the Dutch policy for development cooperation on poverty alleviation and environment and on water as key for development.

      The department's clients' market consists of:

      • national, regional and local governmental and non-governmental and private organisations providing and/or using spatial information to support multi-level governance of the urban region.
        Also, the department's activities focus primarily on less developed countries but also on countries in transition and emerging economies, making as much as possible use of regional synergy.
      • international Official Development Assistance (ODA) organisations like UN-Habitat, World Bank and other regional banks, Europaid, Dutch Directorate General for International Cooperation and other bi-lateral international cooperation agencies, etc.
    • Capacity Development

      The contribution of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management to capacity development is achieved through an integrated approach to research, education, project services and information dissemination; it focuses on Geo-Information Management for multi-level governance of urban regions. 

      Capacity development comprises three interrelated activities, closely related to the requirements of the department's client organisations:


      Three types of professionals are targeted:

      • specialists in relevant thematic areas
      • managers of business processes in organisations
      • Senior managers involved in strategic decision making


      Strengthening the management capacity of organisations in terms of planning and decision making, using information and communication technology (ICT), to improve organisation's performances


      Enhancing the capacity of organisations in negotiating appropriate mandates, legal frameworks and modus operandi to effectively act towards the achievement of higher civil society goals related to poverty alleviation, environment protection and socio-economic development in urbanising regions 

      The department is not only committed to contributing to capacity development but also to measuring the impact of its interventions, making use of qualitative and quantitative capacity development indicators (e.g. using the "UNDP indicator framework").

    • Role as Gateway

      Contribution from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management focus on Geo-Information Management for multi-level governance of urban regions to the development of an international network of partners with ITC acting as a gateway facilitating the development and transfer of knowledge.

      The network of partners comprises academic and professional institutes in the Netherlands, Europe, emerging economies and Less Developed Countries (LDC), working as a network of excellence/virtual enterprise providing complementary services in education, research and advisory services

      The network closely relates with Official Development Assistance (ODA) organisations, to ensure relevance of its activities.

    • Fields of Expertise
      • Spatial Planning

        To develop and apply concepts and methodologies incorporating geographic information and communication technologies to improve the capacity of organisations involved in urban and regional planning to develop appropriate and effective spatial policies, plans and management practices to address development issues. 

        Contemporary spatial planning practice is problem-driven and action-oriented and guided by concerns related to the environment, social equity, economic development and disaster mitigation and management within multi-stakeholder settings. These concerns therefore frame the development and application of GIT based methodologies that are appropriate to the specific geographic setting. Our expertise is applied at various scales, ranging from community planning to the planning and management of extended urban regions where the interactions and linkages between urban and rural areas are key issues.

      • Urban Infrastructure

        To develop and apply concepts and methodologies incorporating geographic information, remote sensing and communication technologies to model, describe and understand urban infrastructure systems to support the capacity of organisations in developing effective responses to the changing demands for good quality urban infrastructural services from all groups within society.

        The Urban Infrastructure knowledge field refers to the provision, operation and maintenance of physical infrastructure, social services and transport. The knowledge field is based on a number of recognised academic and practical focus areas within civil engineering and geography that are relevant in both the developed and the developing world. Contemporary notions of infrastructure development form the context in which the knowledge field operates: infrastructure needs to be planned and developed with multi-stakeholder involvement guided by policies of social equity, access to all, cost recovery, affordability and appropriate technology. These concerns are present in the research theme Planning support for infrastructure development that will guide the short and medium term research activities.

      • Land Administration

        To contribute to education, research and advisory services activities of ITC where it concerns the field of land administration, which is defined as the ‘process of determining, recording and disseminating information about tenure, value and use of land, when implementing land management’ (UN, 1996). 

        As land administration is not an end in itself, but serves society, the knowledge field develops understanding of the way land administration systems should support:

        • the development of a land policy in a multi level government environment
        • the implementation of such land policy trough measures regarding land tenure, land markets, land taxation, land use planning, land reform and the management of natural resources
        • the principles of good governance and the rule of law as a context
        • adequate institutional conditions of legal framework and mandates in the public administration which the land administration system needs in order to serve these functions
        • organisational conditions of business goals and IT policy at strategic level, and work processes and supportive IT architecture at operational level to make land administration systems work, and development of geo-information systems for land administration.
      • Geo-Information Management

        To develop concepts and methodologies for structuring (architectural and socio-technical issues), monitoring (performance, quality and implementation measurement issues) and financing geo-information assets, in the context of multi-level governance of urban regions. 

        The knowledge field draws upon concepts and methodologies from the reference fields of information science, management science and social studies of technology.

        Key fields of interest are:

        • Related to structure
          Architectures for the design and management of multi-dimensional SDI in the government hierarchy (central, regional, local levels) for the delivery of complex services, aggregated from different stakeholders
        • Related to monitoring
          Architectures to manage performance and quality of geo-services
          Capacity Development Indicator Frameworks (CDIF) for monitoring Information Infrastructure development 
          Monitoring the dynamics of SDI implementation with socio-technical approaches
        • Related to financing
          Costing and funding models for geospatial data updating and provision
          The national budget as an instrument for inter-agency SDI coordination
      • Planning and Decision Making Methods

        To develop concepts and methods to support planning and decision making for resource allocation in complex environments characterised by multi-system and multi-stakeholders. It supports problem structuring, preparatory planning and decision-making prior to the actual employment of resources. From this angle the knowledge field is engaged in the development of concepts, methods, models and techniques that enhance the use and application of geo-information. 

        Planning and Decision Making Methods is anchored in Operations Research Science and Planning Theory, with a particular emphasis on the spatial characteristics of collaborative and participatory modelling to support development and assessment of resource allocation scenarios to support resource allocation decisions. Planning and Decision Making Methods thus concerns with two related yet separated fields of theory and practice, as follows:

        • Spatial Planning Support Systems (SPSS), focusing on modelling demand and supply of resources, suitability assessment, generation and evaluation of plans and policy scenarios through qualitative, quantitative, dynamic and static spatial simulation models.
        • Spatial Decision Support Systems (SDSS), focusing on spatial multi-criteria decision analysis, group decision making, adaptive collaborative management approaches, trade-off analysis, development of intelligence and interactive SDSS through knowledge based DSS, visual interactive modelling and visualisation of results, and impacts.
  • Our People

    For the complete (and up-to-date) list of WRS Staff, Guest / Visiting Scientists, PhD / Promovendus visit the ITC Who-is-who

    For information about former WRS Staff, Guest / Visiting Scientists, PhD / Promovendus, contact the Department Secretary.

  • Contact

    For more information on the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management, please contact: p.d.weber@utwente.nl

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