Situation awareness in urban planning. Case: mobility planning decision-making in Otaniemi campus and T3 area

Susa Eräranta from the EUE community has published an interesting thesis (eräranta_susa_thesis_2013) Abstract of this work:

”The process of developing urban areas is divided into a number of separate,
fragmented and overlapping strategy, planning and implementation projects
from a number of actors. Simultaneously, decision-makers face an overflow of
information coming from various actors, various themes, and in various formats.
Unless a decision-maker is conscious of the prevailing situation and the societal
complexity, also benign planning decisions may have undesired and surprising
outcomes.

The point of departure was to analyze how urban planning decision-makers
perceive various projects’ position in the overall urban planning and development
process of an area (situation awareness), the connections between various
projects influencing each other (systemic understanding), and the information
used in generating situation awareness (information use). The situation awareness
of a decision-maker will affect the quality of a decision, and through that the
planning, sustainability, livability, functionality and accessibility of an area.
The scope of this study was to analyze mobility planning decision-making in
Otaniemi campus and T3 area (Espoo, Finland). The West Metro project (scheduled
to be completed in 2015), as well as the Otaniemi campus and T3 development
projects, will have various effects on the planning and development of the
case area, which made the mobility planning an interesting and topical theme for
this study. Mobility planning is divided into various scales and sub-systems, and
a decision on one scale or sub-system will have a plethora of influences on other
scales and sub-systems.

In the qualitative analysis of the case material (planning and decision making
documentation and 17 key person interviews), three main development needs
were identified. First, process documentation should be developed for improving
the possibility of validating the decisions made and information used. Second,
the methods for round-table meetings as a way of facilitating the discussion and
interaction, and the generation of systemic understanding within the planning
ecosystem, should be developed. And third, there is a need for improving the
understanding of qualitative information and user experience by creating methods
for utilizing user information.”

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