Healthy Cities URBACT

Why do we need healthy cities? 

All too often, when people hear health, they think hospitals. But health is holistic, with our immediate environment determining up to 75% of health outcomes (WHO). Think walkable streets, clean air, and access to calming green spaces – all key to a healthy lifestyle and all factors of planning.

As urban populations continue to accelerate, we need to use urban planning to generate healthy lives and drive the transformation of city spaces.

What do we need to plan healthy cities?

There’s plenty of scientific evidence showing how urban design affects health – despite this, health and planning are too rarely considered in tandem. The Healthy City Generator bridges the gap between ´what we know´ and ´what we do´, making it easy for urban planners and policy makers to incorporate health factors into urban planning and urban factors into health policy.

Until now, if a planner wanted to centre health, they needed to choose between applying a complex, intensive framework like the UN Site Specific Assessment, or selecting simple tools that only touch on a single driver of health – like the Propensity to Cycle Tool.

We need to make the process simple, while integrating all aspects of health into all stages of planning. With our practical, interactive tool, users can quickly assess the health impact of their whole plan, and see how small adjustments could make a big difference to the lives of local people. 

How will the Healthy Cities Generator help?

The Healthy Cities Generator is a hands-on, practical planning tool designed to give actionable indicators for anyone looking to integrate health into planning. 

Based on a systematic review of scientific peer-reviewed publications linking urban determinants and their impact on health, the tool automatically calculates the health impact of urban planning actions. Combining these science driven insights with a lean, easy to use interactive interface, the tool provides unique support to decision makers, planners and citizens and health professionals. 

Gathering input for the Healthy Cities Generator to assess the health impact of an urban plan in the City of Vic, Spain

From the planning perspective, the user can easily enter their own planning actions and immediately visualise the specific health effects of changes to density, mobility, mixed uses, landscape, and housing. The results paint a clear picture of how your plan affects health.

For health, the tool includes an assessment to help citizens and practitioners understand their areas strengths and weaknesses, and guides the user to the urban planning & social actions that will improve their health results.