Health and the city

How do we make sure that children can play safely in urban neighbourhoods? How do we ensure that facilities in an urban environment remain accessible for the elderly? TNO advises on how to plan urban areas so that they encourage healthy behaviours and enable the elderly to remain more independent. Policymakers also receive information on the effects of spatial decisions and investments in the health of urban residents.

Increasing urbanisation

More and more people are living in larger and larger cities. Moreover, urban space is being used more and more efficiently. There are good reasons for this – space is scarce in the Netherlands – but it means that people in the cities are not able to move around as freely as they would in rural areas. This has unfavourable consequences for children and the elderly. There are few areas for children to play, and as a result they are less physically active and are becoming heavier and less healthy. For the elderly, healthcare institutions and other facilities such as shopping centres are sometimes difficult to reach. Consequently they will opt more often for motorised transport, which is less healthy than walking or cycling.

Effects visible in the planning phase

Policymakers are seeking ways to plan cities and neighbourhoods so that they provide a safe and healthy living environment for children and the elderly. In the context of the increasing decentralisation of healthcare responsibilities, they also want to provide accessible care in the community.
TNO has models that provide information at an early stage – in the planning phase – about the effect of such measures, and can advise on ways to make them more effective. Also in the case of development plans not specifically geared to children or the elderly, TNO's expertise can contribute to improving the physical environment for both these groups. The model provides healthcare institutions with usable information, for example on future care needs in a neighbourhood or city, or on potential locations in an urban area.

Environment & Climate

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