Background of DECUMANUS
In 2012 for the first time in human history the majority of the population globally live in cities. Urbanization is a fundamental force of change, and in Europe has underpinned the flourishing of civilization for millennia. However, the 21st-century is also witnessing the impact of other societal challenges, including climate change, and the need to secure the efficient utilisation of finite resources. These societal challenges are impacting not only the social fabric of urban life, and the economy of cities, but also the civil quality of urban environments throughout Europe.
It is clear that if properly governed cities can become a major part of the solutions to the growing threat of societal challenges, and so can become economically vital, culturally vibrant, and healthy environments delivering first-class quality of life for hundreds of millions of city dwellers throughout Europe. Nonetheless, the challenge of urban governance is immense, and must address the complex and interconnected reality of urban systems to secure a proper balance between the socio-economic and environmental dynamics of urban areas.
The key to effective governance of cities is the generation of the necessary intelligence to inform decision-making by politicians, to guide urban policy making and implementation, and to inform and engage all citizens in the delivery of sustainable urban development.
DECUMANUS is dedicated to provide this urban intelligence, and aims fundamentally to secure the more effective governance of the cities of Europe, targeting the needs of urban planners, policymakers and politicians to secure and apply enhanced intelligence in the decision-making process that underpins the management of cities. In doing so DECUMANUS addresses the fundamental needs of all citizens for sustainable urban futures, as well as the key components of the political priorities of the European Union as defined by the framework policies of Europe 2020 and the Lisbon agenda, as well as those specifically targeting sustainable urban development.
DECUMANUS addresses these societal challenges and the corresponding research and development gaps necessary to secure effective urban governance. DECUMANUS provides services accessible to urban managers dealing with societal challenges including climate change, based on the philosophy that it is possible to adapt to, and mitigate, the challenges if you can understand and measure them. Within the DECUMANUS project five services are developed:
- Urban Climate Atlas service assessing urban climate change impacts
- Land monitoring service providing land consumption information and urban ecosystems assessment tools
- City Energy Efficiency assessing energy consumption and improve energy efficiency in cities
- Citizen Health tools to alert the population to health risks arising from poor air quality and excessive temperatures in the urban area
- Population impact assessment analysing the impact of climate change scenarios to the population
DECUMANUS is fundamentally user defined and driven. The project concept, approach and objectives are informed by the substantial experience of the project partners in working with urban managers and associated user communities in the development of innovative technological solutions to the challenges of sustainable urban development. Accordingly, the project has full engagement with users, and the partner cities of Antwerp, Helsinki (HSY), London (RBK&C), Milan, and Madrid are fully integrated in the project workplan, defining requirements, testing products and services, validating results and acting as ambassadors of these technologies for other cities.
Policy drivers and commitments
Understanding of the potential impacts of societal challenges for individuals and society is developing fast. In addition, a number of legislative drivers and policy commitments are encouraging European city administrations to take actions with regard to societal challenges including climate change adaptation, reduction of CO2 emissions, energy efficiency, poor air quality, and the re-naturing of cities. The aim of the DECUMANUS services is to support European city administrations to tackle these societal challenges by improving the means to inform decision makers in the more effective strategic planning and governance of cities.
DECUMANUS is a 30 months project. In an initial set-up phase from project month 0 to 3, project infrastructure required for communication and development is set up, and methodological aspects are clarified. There are two cycles of product delivery, with the main research and development work is conducted. Basic services are developed in the first cycle from month 2 to month 10. In a secondary cycle, premium services are developed from month 11 to month 30. A final evolution, evaluation and exploitation phase concludes the project.