UIRS – Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia

How ICT provision can improve aspects of spatial use and quality?

Authors: Ina Šuklje Erjavec

To better understand and present the complexity of the relationship between users’ needs for space use and quality and the necessary attributes and ways of using ICT tools to improve various aspects of space quality, we have prepared an overview table that includes and shortly describes key spatial quality aspects of the outdoor setting, list of some user needs related to both spatial and ICT use, ICT attributes relevant to fulfil those needs, some possibilities and types of ICT implementation, and suggestions of related added values to listed spatial quality aspects.


  • AR = Augmented Reality
  • LT = Location Technology
  • W = Wi-Fi
  • VT = Vision Technology
  • DM+ = Data Management plus more
AttributesType of implementation
(Public) AccessibilityPhysical accessibility orientation, navigation, access for all (inclusiveness)

Accessibility to technology – skills/use, affordability, equality (inclusiveness)
Easy to use (intuitive) devices, (no need to be
Path quality – access for all

Online information before visiting place – available for all needs
Wayfinding apps – “filtering’ based on user profile and requirements Overlaying of additional information within App for specific purposes (augmented reality);
In-situ devices LT, AR
Enhancing access for all (facilitating it)
Responding more specifically to user requirements,
Possibility for user feedback to enrich data
SecurityTo feel safe in the space, not to be controlled or observed; to retain:
– physical safety
– emotional/
– psychological

Internet security – not to be hacked
Physical and virtual privacy, confidence, alert to danger, feedback, security checkICT tools and apps for:
– Lighting
– Sound and light
– Suitable
structure of
place, good
– Validated
networks Monitoring cameras
Social networking
User’s involvement
New users
Higher usability
New ways of lighting
Activation system
LegibilityTo understand the place/move easilyReadabilityPlanning – Layout and way-marking AR, LT, VT, W, DMBetter orientation flow of movement
Clear Identity of placeUnique featuresArtworks, landscaping, facilitiesRecognition, significance
SociabilityParticipation and inclusion InteractionGathering / social settings
Interactive settings
Play features
Clear space/ICT demarcation /time- independent but spatially localised social interaction
Well-being and social cohesion, ownership/care sense of belonging,
AdaptabilityAdapt to special needs
Co-create – temporarily change
Capacity for individual change
Future-proof design
Apps, Wi-Fi
Sensors, Screens and other in-situ devices and settings
(Regular maintenance and updating needed)
Co-creation, citizen input, experimentation of solutions, possibly temporary
FunctionalityAccessibility ComfortWelcoming spaces, clear pathwaysSocial design and facility provision DM, LTSystem trust
ConnectabilityBetween spaces (permeability), people and informationSecure and high-bandwidth provisionMaintaining networks, facilitation
Social cohesion, communication
VarietyAttractors Opportunity of choiceGaming, social, information layersEmbedded games and play, socially hybrid spaces – e.g. chess/coffee
New uses
(Social) resilience in the face of emergencyObtain and give effective and reliable information; Knowledge as to where to go; Access to amenities
Organisational support for groups
Quick responsiveness
Spatial adaptability to user needs
ICT-functioning support
Accessibility (to both space and technology)
Energy independence or passive energy generation
Monitoring devices e.g. air/water quality, waste…
Timely information provision and exchange
A direct communication channel e.g. via social media
Monitoring available resources
/ ecological sustainability
Optimal microclimate
Water retention
Pollution and natural disaster mitigation
Real-time monitoring via sensors
Visualising the information in situ
DM, VT, LT, in situ sensors
Raising awareness and knowledge
Support policymaking and management
(physical and mental) and wellbeing
Outdoor physical activity
Mental restoration (connection with nature)
Knowledge about optimal environmental conditions to carry out physical activity
Challenging and attractive environment for physical activities;
Virtual environment to enhance wellbeing;
Real-time information;
Health-related statistics
Innovative elements that invite one to perform physical activities
Screens, Apps Games
Raising awareness, knowledge, promotion of a healthy lifestyle;
Attract new people outdoors; Incentivise activity of visitors;
Offer new experiences


Evaluation of digital tools for co-creation of public open space

Authors: Ina Šuklje Erjavec, Vita Žlender

In relation to the Digital Co-Creation Index – a tool to assess, measure and compare digital co-creation initiatives, a conceptual framework was elaborated to convey the penetration of ICT into public spaces. The criteria are structured according to three aspects: spatial quality aspects, user-related aspects, and technological aspects (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Three aspects and criteria to consider when selecting ICT for co-creation of public spaces.


The approach to evaluating these aspects is grounded on basic principles of researching, understanding and designing public spaces developed by theorists and practitioners such as W.H. Whyte, J. Gehl, S. Carr and others. Specifically, the criteria, indicators and tools from the Project for Public Spaces “The Place Diagram” (Project for Public Spaces, 2009) and Jan Gehl’s “12 Urban Quality Criteria” (2017) were examined more profoundly.


The approach to evaluating these aspects is grounded on basic principles of researching, understanding and designing public spaces developed by theorists and practitioners such as W.H. Whyte, J. Gehl, S. Carr and others. Specifically, the criteria, indicators and tools from the Project for Public Spaces “The Place Diagram” (Project for Public Spaces, 2009) and Jan Gehl’s “12 Urban Quality Criteria” (2017) were examined more profoundly. In addition, we took into consideration the outcomes of the CyberParks Project and evaluated the performance of the C3Places POS Quality Index (C3Places, 2019) for the Living Labs assessment that we adapted to the current context of POS, with its digital transformation in mind. The main spatial quality aspects which include additional dimensions relevant for ICT penetration into POS, are defined as:

  • Accessibility and linkages – Legibility, Navigation, Convenience for movement, Interlinking, Level of physical, social and digital accessibility.
  • Place-related safety – Vandalism, Traffic, Injuries, Environmental safety (monitoring).
  • Image & Quality of place attributes – Attractiveness, Personalisation and individual creation possibilities, Adaptability, Monitoring, Environmental quality and Ecological sustainability.
  • Uses and activities – Communication and education possibilities, Access to information, Sociability, Research possibilities, Playfulness, Variety, Responsiveness, Service provision, Health and wellbeing.


To define criteria for these aspects, our guiding question was: Which characteristics of ICT are needed to satisfy use and successful co-creation experiences? As basis for development of criteria the Social Responsiveness Index and the Digital Inclusiveness Index were used, plus a sub-indices of Digital Co-Creation Index (C3Places, 2019) and literature review of existing classifications and criteria of ICT features to enable satisfactory user experience. We considered criteria for methods and approaches selection from “Participedia” (n.d.) and the work of Kaplan & Haenlein (2014), who focused on collaborative projects, such as one on ICT tools, grouping them along two dimensions: type of knowledge that is created within a collaborative project, and mutual independence of individual contributions. We define user related aspects as:

  • Interactivity – User’s engagement along with the device/ media/ application used, its type of interaction, degree of interaction and type of experience
  • Content manipulation and management – How is it provided and what is user supply?
  • Usability – Ease of use, respect for privacy, saving work for future use, customization potential, possibility of choice
  • User-related safety – security and privacy assurance technology (protection of personal data, anonymity of ideas, etc.) and social resilience


The guiding question for the technological aspects was: How can digital technology support quality of place and the way the place is used and developed? The main issues to define are:

  • Technical requirements regarding software, hardware and network communication, and their installation: is there a need for the internet, are any specific operational systems required, i.e. electricity, speakers, etc.?
  • From the time-related point of view: is the ICT tool functioning permanently or temporarily, continuously or intermittently?
  • From the point of view of functioning place: is the ICT tool static, located in the POS, portable, to be used in POS, or remotely accessible to be used for distant POS-related activities?

On this basis, we have systemised types of ICT tools and their supporting devices in three main categories which describe where the tool is installed in relation to the open space and how an ICT tool interacts with the user. The subtypes of tools are defined according to POS, user-related functions and specific characteristics. Thus, the developed framework for classifying digital tools for co-creation is addressed in the next section.


Possible benefits of using ICT tools in co-creation process

Authors: Ina Šuklje Erjavec, Vita Žlender

To effectively use all the ICT potential it is important to understand co-creation in its broader sense: as a process that includes all stages of POS development and addresses all types of related collaboration activities, such as involving end users (citizens) and other relevant stakeholders, sharing information and local knowledge, collaborating on data gathering, expressing opinions, needs, wishes and values, defining priorities, visions and aims, working on decision making as well as placemaking with different participatory planning and co-design activities and comanagement (Šuklje Erjavec, 2017; Šuklje Erjavec & Ruchinskaya, 2019).

As further next step towards better understanding the possibilities for co-creation, we developed the following structure of the possible use of different ICT tools. It explains the type of function and way of integration in the process of planning and design, place making, place management and community engagement.

FOR EXPERTISE WORK – technology for supporting spatial development processes

>in the process of spatial planning and design, digital tools could be used to better:

  • Understand, analyse and evaluate spatial and social state of the art faster, more deeply and comprehensively
  • Assess and evaluate proposals more transparently
  • Develop more transparent solutions, scenarios and models
  • Present solutions more understandably and efficiently for non-experts (hardware and software)
  • Perform sharing, co-production, co-creating, co-designing between experts and with stakeholders

FOR PLACE FUNCTIONING – technology in place & technology supporting the use of place

>in the process of place making, digital tools could increase:

  • Responsiveness and adaptability of place
  • Communication about place and within place
  • Orientation and access to information
  • Attractiveness, usability and playfulness of place
  • Identity and recognizability of place
  • Personalization and individual creation possibilities
  • Education possibilities
  • Research possibilities, etc.

>in the process of place management, digital tools could increase

  • Monitoring – environmental and spatial quality
  • Maintenance feedback (sensors, mobile apps, platform)
  • Work coordination
  • Traffic management
  • Cultural content management
  • Technical management
  • Maintenance management
  • Information management, etc.

FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT – technology for supporting community engagement

>to raise awareness and increase involvement of the community, digital tools could increase the effectiveness of:

  • Information collection, sharing and management
  • Social communication, interactivity and networking management
  • Public involvement and participation
  • Co-creation process management
  • Construction of community capacity and common issues and goals


Actors and their roles in the co-creation of Public Open Space

Authors: Barbara Goličnik Marušić, Ina Šuklje Erjavec, Vita Žlender

Despite the agreement in the academic literature that co-creation is a collective creative endeavour (Arnstein, 1969), we believe that the role of citizens and that of professionals differ.

With regard to the roles of citizens, Goličnik Marušić and Šuklje Erjavec (in press) elaborate on three diverse roles of the citizens as co-implementers, co-designers, and co-initiators, of which, only the co-initiator is highly involved in various steps of the contemporary planning process.

With regard to the roles of professionals, scholars use different terms to denote them, ranging from the role of initiator, metadesigner, negotiator, involver and enthusiast (see e.g. Eggertsen Teder, 2019; Vandael et al., 2018).

These roles might overlap with those identified in other literature as facilitator (e.g. Vandael et al., 2018) or a mediator (Goličnik Marušić & Šuklje Erjavec, in press). Different terms used might be a reason for the confusion and the uncomprehensive overview of roles.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the co-creation process needs structure and clearly defined roles, yet it should also remain open to individual suggestions and approaches to enhance the creativity of all parties involved and facilitate constructive problem solving.

We elaborated on the roles in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Roles of actors in the co-creation within the POS development process


Co-creation of Public Open Space – challenges and opportunities

Authors: Barbara Goličnik Marušić, Ina Šuklje Erjavec, Vita Žlender

To facilitate the smoothness of a co-creative process, different kinds of participatory tools, methods and technologies have been developed, most of them aiming at being easy to use and available to users anywhere and anytime. Commonly, it is still urban planners who are designing and initiating the process, so the selection of participatory tools mainly depends on them. However, the actors involved in the co-creation and the variety and relationships among them are of crucial importance for the success of the creation process. The relationship between all involved is a partnership, though some literature stresses the communication gaps between various actors involved.

Type of Activities and Tasks of Actors

We defined specific tasks of planning experts and users as the actors involved in the process, and further develop the activities and tasks for each co-creation stage (Figure 1).

Figure1: Co-creation stages, activities, tasks of actors and likely results within the POS development process (Žlender et al., 2019)

Discover. In this phase, activities performed mainly relate to:

  • Patterns of use: gathering information about the patterns of how people use a place to provide an overview of behaviours, activities and movements of people in POS;
  • Users’ needs: collecting information on citizens’ needs, wishes, preferences, complaints, and more;
  • Users’ perception: collecting information on citizens’ perceptions of the environment;
  • Spatial potential and problems: information on spatial potentials, problems, obstacles, etc.;
  • Using databases: spatial attributes and characteristics information on spatial attributes and other characteristics; and
  • Budget: data on budgetary possibilities.

Debate. In the debate phase, most important activities refer to:

  • Scenario development facilitation: facilitating the development of the predictions and scenarios to help identify parameters that may impact on people’s use of a POS;
  • Actual implementation check: checking financial possibilities and calculations for the implementation and management of different scenarios as possible realisations;
  • Possible place layout check: recognizing or understanding place types and their attributes to support the debate about priorities and possibilities once/if implemented; and
  • Possible place content and purpose check: recognizing ideas and suggestions shared by the public and other stakeholders about the purpose, vision, aims, possibilities, problems, preferences and priorities of a place once/if implemented

Decide. In this phase, the final decision is met, and the solutions are co-created. Main activities of this phase are:

  • Sharing the visions: expressed comments and visions from diverse actors involved;
  • Sharing opinions about the proposal(s): opinions about the proposal(s) based on results from the previous phase;.
  • Assessment of the proposal(s): appropriateness of the proposed solution(s) against selected criteria; and
  • Argumentation for the decision taken: arguing and evaluation steps for decisions taken.

Do. The final phase encompasses co-designing, delivering and implementing a solution, including the actual design use as well as its maintenance as a precondition for the long-term attractiveness and conduciveness for usage. In this phase, the activities may refer to:

  • Search for (final) co-designed version: ways for searching for actual co-design solutions;
  • Modelling concepts and prototypes: ways for and types of modelling concepts and virtual prototypes;
  • Co-design experiences: co-design the site-specific experiences of various actors;
  • Co-creation by use: ways of use and types of actual experiences in co-creation according to use; and
  • Feedback from users: gathering feedback from users.


Digitally Supported Co-creation within Public Open Space Development Process. Experiences from the C3Places Project and Potential for Future Urban Practice

Authors: Vita Žlender , Ina Šuklje Erjavec, Barbara Goličnik Marušić

This research aimed to explore information and communication technologies (ICT) types to support co-creation activities in public open spaces (POS) at different stages of the co-creation process.

We conducted state-of-the-art research on the methods, best practices, obstacles and potential of ICT tools and co-creation activities to ease the interaction between stakeholders engaged in the process.

Based on those findings, we proposed an ICT tools selection framework. Four living labs were analysed to better understand the practical side of digitally aided co-creation.

We conclude by exposing challenges and suggest ways to move forward toward genuinely digitally supported co-creation of the POS.

Read the full article

Vita Žlender , Ina Šuklje Erjavec & Barbara Goličnik Marušić (2020): Digitally Supported Co-creation within Public Open Space Development Process: Experiences from the C3Places Project and Potential for Future Urban Practice, Planning Practice & Research, DOI: 10.1080/02697459.2020.1829286

Types of ICT tools

Authors: Ina Šuklje Erjavec, Vita Žlender

The development of digital technologies opened new opportunities for different collaborative processes, many new possibilities to engage and activate people, and for new ways of interacting with the environment. On the basis, of the possible use of different ICT tools in the relation to the type of function and way of integration in the process of planning and design, place making, place management and community engagement. We have systemised types of ICT tools and their supporting devices according to location of the tool in the relation to the open space and the way of its interaction with the user. In that was we defined three main categories:

  • Place-located ICT tools
  • Portable ICT tools
  • Remotely accessible ICT tools

Each category is also structured into the subtypes of tools, which are defined according to POS, user-related functions and specific characteristics. The subtypes of tools are defined according to the POS and user-related functions and specific characteristics.

Place-located ICT tools

These tools are located ‘in place’ and installed as a part of physical features of POS. Such digital tools add new functions into existing place or are part of the design of the new one, combining digital and physical layers into a new hybrid use. The overview of place located ICT tools is presented in the following table.

Individual digital elements
as new types of equipment in POS
Digital public displays 

Public interactive displays

Multimedia interactive elements

Multifunctional tech totems

Interactive and responsive sound installations

Responsive lighting elements 

Multimedia pavilions

Interactive POS elements: a combination of different digital elements (e.g. screens + speakers + lighting) as artistic installations per se or frames for them, responsive sculptures and fountains, play equipment, etc.

Individual elements for energy provision, as electric vehicle charging stations, solar energy stations, etc.
Digital part(s) of POS equipment or parts of surrounding buildings and equipment
Digital elements upgrading or supporting the functioning of urban elements (these are incorporated into traditional types of POS furniture like bench, table, fence, light, playing or sport equipment, etc.)

Digital additions for upgrading the functioning, maintenance or experience of the area like WI-FI hotspot, speakers, QR codes, sensors, beacons, universal intelligent nodes

Elements for energy provision to support use of portable ICT devices that are incorporated into traditional types of POS furniture, playing or sports equipment, etc.) in a form of plugs, solar panels, etc.

Media facades as part of other built structures, e.g. facades, walls, etc.

Projection mapping (Digital projectors)
Digital projectors as part of other built structures, e.g. facades, grounds, walls, etc.

SAR (spatial augmented reality) systems: 
– Shader lamps (projector-based augmentation)
– Mobile projectors 
– Virtual tables
– Smart projectors (projection mapping), etc.
Responsive materialsAdaptive pavements (adapting to the weather, accessibility needs, etc.)

Responsive verticals (changing by touch, sound, etc.)

Measuring materials (for monitoring the use, conditions, etc.)

Self-cleaning, self-repairing and materials

Portable ICT tools

These tools bring a user to the public open space and establish a relationship with space, other users and/or other premises. Their main purpose for POS development and co-creation is to develop new forms of uses and activities in POS by extending human abilities, i.e. adding a digital sense to five basic human senses and to support a direct feedback of users for better POS development and management. Their structure is presented in the following table.

Smart devicesSmartphones and tablets

Smart glasses (e.g. Google Glasses)

Smart grid

Smart watches (e.g. iWatch), etc.
Place related mobile APPSDirectly supporting learning about place and its natural and manmade characteristics, adding to the experience of place, support moving through it, activity and movement tracking)

Collect and share data on environmental conditions, evaluate conditions, etc.

Directly support place evaluation and feedback

VR and AR apps for opinion and proposal development and sharing, etc.

Other apps are discussed within web platforms and apps (Table 3)
GPS -positioning devicesIndividual or as part of other smart devices
Other personal VR and AR devicesHead-mounted displays (e.g. headsets, eyeglasses, contact lenses)

Multi-projected environments

Combination with physical environments or props (e.g. 3D mouse, the wired glove, motion controllers, optical tracking sensors)
Cameras, recordersMany different options
E-textiles – aesthetic and performance enhancingSmart garments, smart clothing, smart textiles, or smart fabrics providing the added values to the wearer, enabling the interaction with the environment and responsiveness to the personal activities and condition

Wearable computing with microcontrollers, sensors and actuators
Digital health and fitness toolsDevices and apps to encourage healthy habits, fitness and other physical activity tracking, health measurements, Internet connected fitness systems, Environment quality sensors and alarm systems

Remotely accessible ICT tools

This group encompasses, on the one side, a broad variety of ICT tools such as laptops, PCs, screens, mobile phones and other hardware, and on the other, web platforms and apps used for digitally networked interactions such as distant society engagement, public consultation, information and opinion collection, exchange and sharing, voting, etc. Their general advantage is that they can at one time reach a much larger number of people who can also choose their own time of use.

In the structure we focus on aspects that are very important to support different co-creation activities for POS development, such as preparation, discovering, debating, deciding, designing, implementation, maintenance, use, and monitoring of public open spaces. The following table provides a general overview on how different components and tools enable and support different dimensions of remote public involvement.

Type of components / toolsExamples
Social networking platforms and sitesPinterest, Facebook, Instagram
Static web sitesProfessional portfolios, digital curriculums
Blogs and microblogsWordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Twitter
Tools for social bookmarking, taggingTools for social bookmarking, tagging
Online storage
(cloud storage, file synchronisation, personal cloud)
Dropbox, GoogleDrive, iCloud
Social network aggregationHoot Suite, FriendFeed
SurveyGoogle Forms, SurveyHero, Typeform, SurveyMonky, InvolveMe
Content communities – Online databases of multimedia content, that allow users to share online multimedia materials by photo, video, podcasts, presentations, etc.Flickr, SmugMug, Picasa, GigaPan
Youtube, Vimeo
SlideShare, VoiceThread
Internet forum / Message board
Textboards and Imageboards
Quora, SkyscrapperCity
Chat rooms
in the form of Web conferencing, Video conferencing, etc.
Instant messaging
Facebook Messenger, Gmail messenger, WhatsApp
Electronic mailing list, news groupMailing lists of different organisations, companies, institutions, etc.
Online dictionariesUrban Dictionary
– Animated and real-time
– Collaborative (e.g. PPGIS)
– Online atlases, etc.
Open Street Map, Google maps, Apple maps, and many different projects specific and city specific data collection platforms
Web-based simulation platforms and apps
for discrete events, continuous events, etc.
Digital participatory platforms: Mobility Testbed, Commonplace, coUrbanize, TransformCity, etc.
Construction and management simulation games, e.g. city building gamesLincity, SimCity, etc.
Augmented reality appsPokemon GO, ScentExplore
Virtual social worldsSecond life