Urbinsight - Ecocity Builders
Connecting neighborhoods on-the-ground with web-based crowd-mapping tools designed to explore, measure and act upon holistic urban health data from a citizen’s perspective


A Global Data Initiative


Urbinsight is a global initiative connecting neighborhoods on-the-ground with web-based crowd-mapping tools designed to explore, measure, and act upon holistic urban health data from a citizen’s perspective.

A next-generation data analysis platform designed for participatory mapping and planning processes, its approach to neighborhood environmental accounting is transparent, rational, open source, transferrable from city to city, scalable from parcel to neighborhood, and suitable for analyzing different resource streams in isolation and in combination, with a goal to provide engaged cities and citizens with the necessary tools and technology to affect the resiliency and sustainability of their cities and settlements.

Evolved from earlier mapping methods that we pioneered in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 2000s, the project has since morphed into the Urbinsight project.

The Platform

The Urbinsight platform is built as a web app allowing for ease of use and less hardware than traditional mapping programs. The web architecture is completely open source, allowing for diverse implementations that can be enhanced to better accommodate project needs and goals. The platform features a toolkit and methodology structured to facilitate resource management, community engagement, city planning, and environmental design.

For example, utilizing geographic data sourced from our Urbinsight partners in Lima, participants assessed local conditions, and via additional research and auditing on the ground, explored Lima’s water subsystems in context with the geographic analysis using tools to assess the urban metabolism of water as an “information system”.

Explore Lima’s data in the geoexplorer here and the Urban Metabolic Information System (UMIS) Meta Diagram for Water in the San Isidro neighborhood below.

Process & Methodology

An important consideration within the context of participatory planning and open data is the means through which data is being aggregated and disseminated. In an effort to democratize access to planning and development data, the process and methodology of Urbinsight is fundamentally participatory and inclusive, driven by a web native application independent of any one operating system. This framework extends through the collection and synthesis of base layer data to the environmental assessments and use of the Urban Metaflow toolkit, facilitating partnerships and knowledge exchange between municipal governments, educational institutions, and community based organizations.


Urbinsight has an integrated online library of versatile educational resources entitled EcoCompass, which is a participatory research curriculum for urban resilience that was developed in partnership with multiple universities. The EcoCompass includes training-of-trainers (TOT) resources, interactive workshop activities, downloadable presentations, a database of best practice documents, video tutorials, and exchange forums where ideas and queries can be posted.

Learn more about the EcoCompass’ framework and scope of engagement.

Interested in becoming a partner or pilot? Tell us a little bit about your city and its communities and how we might collaborate through Urbinsight.

Pilots & Partnerships

The Urbinsight project is defined by partnerships at multiple levels.

Community: Our primary focus is to identify a Community Based Organization who can lead and inform the community engagement process.
Institutional: We look towards working with education institutions and partners to implement curriculum related to participatory research and geographic information systems.
Municipal: City level partners are instrumental in providing us with data and information to help guide and frame the ground level analysis which the communities contribute to.
Global: Our goal is to create cross city analysis to identify best practices globally that can empower citizens worldwide to create sustainable changes in their or urban context.
To date, pilots have been carried out (or are currently in progress) in Cairo, Egypt; Casablanca, Morocco; Medellín, Colombia; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and Lima & Cusco, Peru.


Demos are two-day events during which participating schools and organizations coordinate workshops to collect data relevant to their neighborhood. Students share skills pertaining to Urban Metabolism Information System (UMIS), Geographical Information System (GIS), and Public Participation Techniques (PPT) learned in the workshops to community members in a study area defined according to the boundaries established during the Leadership Roundtable.

Next, teams are configured according to the different data collection methods and needs to establish baselines. Such needs include environmental assessments (e.g. air and water quality tests), quality of life questionnaires, as well as household and neighborhood audits of resource management (e.g. water demand, energy consumption). Ultimately, data is digitized, testing samples are assessed, and results are analyzed at the designated workstations set up within the study area.

Interested in becoming a partner or pilot? Download the Starter Kit here. Tell us a little bit about your city and its communities and how we might collaborate through Urbinsight.