Already having a patent pending with the INPI, the method for managing urban phenomena can be applied to a variety of areas, from urban mobility to the vulnerability of the water supply

Researchers at the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) have developed a system for presenting and managing urban phenomena that could be an important tool for public and private management needs. Initially, the method was applied to building the Map of Energy Vulnerability of Residential Areas in the City of São Paulo, released in 2017. The system, for which a patent is pending with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), makes it possible to create maps for variety of subjects, such as urban mobility, violence, the vulnerability of the water supply, and others.

The method was developed by the RCGI’s Project 28 team, coordinated by geographer Luís Antonio Bittar Venturi, Professor in the Geography Department of the School of Philosophy, Letters, and Human Sciences of the University of São Paulo (FFLCH-USP). The objective of the group is to analyze the potential for the domestic use of natural gas integrated with the electrical power grid of the city of São Paulo. For example, the researchers projected a scenario for the equitable use of natural gas and electricity in the city’s homes. The map showed that this would lessen energy vulnerability by 11%.

Backed by the USP Innovation Agency (AUSPIN), the team decided to expand the use of the system and lay out maps of  other subjects, but from the viewpoint of the domestic use of natural gas: impacts on the quality of the city’s air; changes in energy costs; technical viability; and a comparison between energy and social vulnerability. The researchers concluded that there would be a 2.5% increase in the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere and a 7% average increase in the charges to energy accounts.

According to Venturi, the multiplicity of the system’s applications makes it an important ally for urban management. “It is possible to use it for any type of urban phenomenon for which we have measurable, mappable, and georeferenced data of any city. With the maps of energy supply, social, or water supply vulnerability, for example, managers can identify the areas that need more attention and investment.”

How it works – The system consists of three dimensions: theoretical, methodological, and technical. The first step is to identify, in the specialized literature, what are the indicators related to the subject of interest and, then georeferenced them. In the case of energy vulnerability, for instance, it is necessary to take into consideration such data as tree cover density, storms, the proximity to hospitals and large avenues and if the grid is aerial or underground. “All of this is measured in relation to the frequency and duration of interruptions in the energy supply,” the Project Coordinator explains.

Then, the data are placed in a methodological matrix – the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) – in which different weights are given to each indicator. Finally, the matrix is inserted into a geographic information system, which produces a map with classes of vulnerability. The map is dynamic – and change in the indicators or their weights can generate a new map, making it possible to project various scenarios.