Measuring the quality of urban environments: a need-based micro-simulation approach

T.A. Arentze, P.J.H.J. Waerden, van der, J.W. Bergen, van, H.J.P. Timmermans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic


The ability of an urban environment to support the daily activities individuals need or wish to conduct in time and space has received attention particularly in constraintsbased approaches. The premise of the present paper is that underlying activities of individuals is a set of universal needs and the most relevant question is whether an environment allows individuals to satisfy their needs. In this paper, we develop a new measurement approach that is based on a needs-based theory that we developed in earlier work. Using a micro-simulation approach, the quality of an environment is measured based on a representative set of daily activity patterns in a studied population. Activity patterns are spatially represented as route systems in a GIS environment and attributes of stops and routes are measured using standard GIS tools. The needs-based model is applied to each activity pattern to calculate the extent to which a set of latent needs are satisfied as a function of mode and duration-dependent exposure to these aspects of the environment. The aggregated utility across activity patterns is taken as a measure of quality. We illustrate the method in a case study where we use TransCAD for spatial analysis and an existing activity diary dataset from the Eindhoven region and where we focus on green-recreation needs. The case study shows the sensitivity of the measure for spatial scenarios regarding availability and spatial distribution of green area in the city.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computers in Urban Planning and Urban Management (CUPUM 2007) 11-13 July 2007, Iguassu Falls, Brasil
Editorsda Silva, A.N.R., de Souza, L.C.L.
Place of PublicationSão Carlos
ISBN (Print)978-85-85205-77-5
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Eventconference; CUPUM 2007, Iguassu Falls, Brasil; 2007-07-11; 2007-07-13 -
Duration: 11 Jul 200713 Jul 2007


Conferenceconference; CUPUM 2007, Iguassu Falls, Brasil; 2007-07-11; 2007-07-13
OtherCUPUM 2007, Iguassu Falls, Brasil


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