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Nakuru embarks on city planning

The county government of Nakuru has embarked on establishment of an urban observatory that incorporates smart city components, whose objective is to facilitate data collection, analysis and information to support decision-making processes that are evidence-based.

The city manager Gitau Thabanja said the initiative is being implemented through the Directorate of Urban Development in collaboration with the City Management.

Speaking at the county offices Monday, Thabanja lauded the recent successful implementation of various infrastructure projects, such as the installation of CCTV cameras and air quality sensors, which demonstrates the progress made towards achieving goals of the urban observatory.

The city manager explained that the urban observatory, which has not been implemented in many African cities, is an interactive exhibit that gives people a chance to compare and contrast maps of cities around the world from one location, aimed at making the world’s data both understandable and useful.

He noted that the growth of urban areas tends to come with related problems, hence the urgent need to implement tools capable of assisting urban management.

Urban observatories are devices that allow the monitoring of cities through the use of indicators, to assess their progress over time, added Thabanja.

At the same time, the city manager emphasized the importance of observatories in formulating policies, involvement of people in decisions, compilation, and availability of data, which was previously unavailable to the general public.

Thabanja equally observed that nowadays, cities present more problems related to continued growth, due to expansions both in size and population and increased data, thus the need for a more effective way to understand such data and utilize it effectively.

Additionally, he said, the UN-Habitat estimates that over the next five years, two-thirds of the world population will reside in urban areas, noting Nakuru city was a good example of wild expansion.

He said the negative effects of rural-urban migration include the destruction of the natural environment at the expense of economic development.

And, this when combined with population concentration and income inequality, tends to lead to insecurity, poor housing, and inadequate supply of infrastructure.

Therefore, there was need to rethink management, planning and urban governance, considering possible solutions to tackle issues such as poverty and climate change, while deploying technological tools for faster and efficient management of cities.

By Veronica Bosibori

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