by Senzo Nkonyane, Esri South Africa – Building sustainable human settlements requires more than bricks and mortar. We need to understand the meaning of the word “human” in human settlements, and focus our efforts on building sustainable settlements and resilient communities.
South Africa’s strategic plan, the National Development Plan (NDP), provides a clear vision of where we should be in 2030. Chapter 8 of this plan deals with the transformation of human settlement and the national space economy. Sadly though there are still municipalities in 2018 approving settlement plans which sometimes contain elements of outdated spatial planning infrastructures e.g. clustered dwellings and communal toilets, thus overlooking the “human” aspect of human settlement. The NDP 2030 makes a call for the delivery of flexible human settlements that are spatially, socially and economically integrated and geospatial technologies are playing a key role in making this vision a reality.
An integrated geospatial visualisation platform can facilitate the necessary co-ordination and oversight required to help transform human settlements in South Africa. Esri’s spatial visualisation platform is being used to assess the Duncan Village redevelopment project in the Eastern Cape (Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality). The project is one of several priority projects targeted for intervention by the BCMM’s Human Settlements Unit to ensure that people get access to decent housing. The Esri platform was used to measure and assess whether the project demonstrates spatial, social and economic integration as envisaged by NDP 2030.
The audience at a recent seminar hosted by Esri South Africa and presented by NT Geomatics, an Esri business partner, were taken on a virtual reality tour of the Duncan Village redevelopment project, courtesy of a range of geospatial and 3D modelling software, which brought the full scope of the proposed housing project to life.
Using the visualisation power of the Esri platform and its ability to bring together multiple streams of information, it was possible to demonstrate to the audience the relationship between various aspects of the housing project. This includes assessing their feasibility, evaluating their alignment with NDP 2030 policy objectives and identifying amendments that need to be made to the project plan.
On the Duncan Village project, the integrated spatial visual platform has made it possible for surveying and town planning consultants from NT Geomatics to ascertain whether the human settlement plan is compliant with the prevailing legislative framework governing projects of this nature and whether space has been built into the project plans for later needs e.g. public transport systems. Harnessing the power of geospatial technologies in this manner has also made it possible to identify gaps and challenges with current government housing strategies.
The spatial platform allows for prompt access to a range of key datasets e.g. land cover, land use and land ownership at the touch of a button. This facility has simplified appropriate site selection for sustainable human settlements, helping to avoid lengthy and costly land appropriation procedures by identifying suitable land that is more readily available. The Esri spatial platform demonstrated that it can strengthen good governance principles as it swiftly identified instances of possible corruption where land intended for human settlement had been sold off cheaply only to be offered back to the department at inflated prices. The integration of various systems including Cadastral, Deeds, Valuation and Land Use made this possible.
Integrated spatial visualisation platforms have a crucial role to play in providing sustainable human settlements in our country. Aside from the benefits of coordinated planning, access to multiple streams of information and 3D visualisation, the use of geospatial solutions for human settlement project planning in South Africa enables mistakes and oversights to be identified and rectified before they become expensive realities.
Senzo Nkonyane is an account manager at Esri South Africa. He has a BA Degree in Geography from Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg) and he has a post graduate qualification in GIS and remote sensing.
Esri South Africa has been the primary geospatial industry software provider in Southern Africa for the past 25 years. Established in 1989 and with headquarters in Midrand, Gauteng, Esri South Africa has offices nationwide, enabling the company to offer professional, individual client services to its growing user base. The company believes in making a difference by simplifying decisions through spatial solutions, enabling its clients to make responsible and sustainable decisions.