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Spatial Design Network Analysis (sDNA)

16 January 2014

A tangle of roads with cars on them

A network analysis tool for evidence-based urban planning

A team of researchers based across the Sustainable Places Research Institute and The School of Planning and Geography has developed a novel network model which measures the "DNA" of a city. The sDNA tool uses spatial design analysis to better understand urban form and activity patterns by taking into account the underlying street network design structure. The underlying principle, based on social network analysis, is that while transportation networks are not the only indicator of urban form, travel, activity or land use distribution, an understanding of transportation network design provides a good framework for understanding and designing cities.

The tool has been used by Local Authority spatial planning departments, transport planners, urban designers and architects to better understand the existing built environment and the likely effect of "what if" scenarios. Current research using sDNA is investigating built environment design impacts on health, wealth and social cohesion.
Recently the iSolve project, which allows entrepreneurial postgraduates and researchers to work with real inventions in order to determine the best route for their commercialization, has been tasked with imagining and investigating mass applications for sDNA which could be pursued.

sDNA has also recently received funding from Hong Kong University to further enhance the software, ensuring its suitability for the modelling of pedestrian networks.  As well as working towards a Hong Kong pedestrian model, the team plan to use these capabilities to support Welsh Local  Authorities in fulfilling their requirements for pedestrians and  cyclists under the new Active Travel Bill through analysis of existing and desirable active mode of travel patterns.

In an additional boost, Welsh Government funding has also been secured by Cardiff University's Research, Innovation & Enterprise Services to support market research targeting sustainable transport professionals which will direct the further development of sDNA software thanks to the sDNA team and Glesni Pierce Jones at RIES.

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