OpenReblock: Safe, Inclusive, and Integrated Cities

by James Tayler

Adobe Spark Page

Re-blocking is an element of incremental slum/informal settlement upgrading that supports area-based design and planning. Through spatial reconfiguration and the introduction of new streets and paths, each home or workplace gains an address and obtains urban services, especially water, sanitation, and drainage. These are essential elements of response to slum development, climate change, and to building community resilience at the local level.

SDI-affiliated communities have conducted re-blocking with many communities worldwide over the last 20 years. Now, SDI – together with partners Santa Fe Institute, Ona and WhereIsMyTransport — are launching a new digital platform to make the slum planning process faster, simpler, and more scalable and to place it in the hands of local communities and other local stakeholders.

The OpenReblock platform is part of an ecosystem of open-source tools co-designed by slum-dwellers, technologists and scientists to re-plan and integrate slums and informal neighborhoods to their city networks with minimal disturbance and cost. Slum communities create an initial map that includes each structure, each available service and public open spaces and then obtain an automatic proposal for new streets and paths. This street layout proposal is then edited and adapted to local needs and preferences in coordination with other stakeholders, such as local governments. Ultimately, these layouts become plans for neighborhood development around a street plan that provides access to emergency services, regularizes addresses, and allows for drainage and the provision of services.

Maps are a powerful tool for the imagination, facilitating the question “How would I like my neighborhood to be?” OpenReblock integrates mapping at the community level, speeding up the process of community organization and decision-making to create better local solutions, improving design, and technical delivery.

Read the full OpenReblock press brief here.