Brussels, 18 Mar 2003
Urbanicity, a UN-backed website, provides city officials with a range of resources aimed at helping them gain a better understanding of sustainable urban management and development issues, as well as the latest planning tools.
Launched in 2001, Urbanicity is a well-structured portal targeting urban planners, city managers and policy makers. Backed by the United Nations' habitat programme and the World Bank's development gateway, it provides, among other services, an online news magazine, links to the official websites of cities around the world, libraries of useful resources, and databases of educational institutes providing courses in related fields.
"Urbanicity exists to develop and operate electronic communications allowing the flow of information, expertise and experience to those responsible for developing and managing urban areas," said Jeremy Flay, chairman of Urbanicity. "We currently have around 60 000 subscribers representing 25 000 towns and cities in over 100 countries."
'City Matters' is the website's online magazine. It contains over a hundred features, case studies and technology papers on many subjects compatible with the EU's Sixth Framework Programme, including development issues, disaster management, alternative energy, health, housing and waste management.
Like other parts of the website, the content is predominantly related to Europe and the United States, while the developing world is somewhat underrepresented. That said, the developing world subject matter available is often interesting. One example is a case study on the restructuring of public housing in Vietnam and how it fits into efforts to bridge the country's north-south divide.
A wealth of information
The 'Urban Resources Library' is a good reference point for urban planners and researchers. Divided into the same categories as the magazine, which can also be cross-referenced geographically, the Library provides links to a wealth of resources in such areas as urban regeneration, civil engineering, sustainable construction and infrastructure planning.
Urbanicity publishes three electronic newsletters, delivered to their subscribers by e-mail, focusing on broad urban issues, conferences, and education and training. However, the website does not appear to provide an interactive debating forum where visitors can exchange views and ideas.
The 'Events Calendar' is classified along the same subject lines and geographical divides, and contains hundreds of entries from across the globe. This versatile tool also comes with its own search engine to make locating events of interest easier.