GOAT (Geo Open Accessibility Tool)

Goat Path

The development of GOAT commenced in 2017 through a master’s thesis and continued with a dissertation project in 2022. In 2020, the establishment of the start-up Plan4Better, a TUM spin-off, aimed to integrate GOAT into planning practices and propel its development forward. Plan4Better and TUM have since contributed to GOAT’s evolution through various research and development projects, including “EX-TRA”. These initiatives introduce new functionalities and enhancements, complemented by collaborative workshops and application phases.

GOAT functionalities in the EX-TRA Project

GOAT can calculate various benchmarks from a holistic view of urban planning and sustainable mobility (including walking, cycling, public transport, and cars). GOAT is a cloud-based solution that operates via an interactive web map. This enables planners to easily analyze the current situation and quickly assess the impact of new concepts and projects, such as constructing new infrastructure or facilities (e.g. playgrounds or new cycle paths). The pre-calculated benchmarks and the easy-to-understand user interface enable rapid familiarisation. GOAT makes accessibility analyses accessible to many users, increasing efficiency and conducting fact-based analyses which support subjective decision-making and investment processes.

Within the EXTRA project case, GOAT was used by local planners in the five cities (Amsterdam, Ghent, Munich, London, and Bologna) where the tool was implemented. The aim was to support practitioners in making better decisions favouring sustainable and more inclusive mobility. As illustrated in Figure 1, the implementation of the tool centred on three main stages:

The Requirement Workshop was a co-creation session to gather the practitioner’s planning needs and discuss what could be realistically implemented in the tool. During the meetings, planners had a brief introduction of GOAT functionalities and mentioned what they expected the tool to analyze, suggesting some features.

During the Onboarding Workshop practitioners tested the first GOAT version created for their specific city based on the needs they mentioned during the first session. It was an opportunity to discuss the tool’s progress and gather further comments on the usefulness of it.

The Evaluation Workshop consisted of the final assessment of GOAT. Practitioners had the opportunity to honestly comment on the tool’s performance. The sessions led to fruitful discussions where the practitioners and project partners exchanged perspectives on improving GOAT and delivering more comprehensive results

The three stages consisted of continuously exchanging knowledge and opinions between participants. It helped to shape GOAT with more helpful features and, in turn, gave the practitioners of each city a tool that could be used to answer their planning questions and generate comprehensive accessibility analyses.

The implementation of GOAT in the five EX-TRA cities has demonstrated satisfaction and interest in further exploring the tool. All cities had their GOAT version, allowing them to use the tool from a context-related perspective and analyze their planning questions.

The workshops conducted thus far have played a crucial role in GOAT’s development, implementation, and evaluation across the five EX-TRA cities. Each city’s progress varied depending on the availability of practitioners to participate in the workshops. As illustrated in Figure 2, all cities completed the three steps of the tool implementation.

In conclusion, implementing the tool across all cities demonstrated its widespread adoption and acceptance among planners, indicating its potential as a valuable resource in urban planning initiatives. However, notable barriers surfaced during implementation, particularly concerning the time required for users to learn how to use the tool and the availability and accuracy of data.

Moreover, the voluntary nature of tool implementation and workshop participation posed challenges in garnering sufficient feedback from relevant stakeholders. Nonetheless, the engagement provided invaluable insights into refining the tool and streamlining its efficient integration within governmental frameworks.

These findings underscore the importance of addressing time constraints and enhancing data accessibility and accuracy to optimize the tool’s efficacy. Additionally, strategies to incentivize participation and gather comprehensive feedback will be essential for further improving its utility and ensuring its successful implementation in governmental contexts.

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