Urban and Regional Studies

Key projects

SmartGov – Advanced Decision Support for Smart Urban Governance

The SmartGov project addresses the huge, but underdeveloped potential of Linked Open Data and Social Media as crowdsourcing tools that complement regular data collection for decision-making and and two-way communication between citizens, governments and other stakeholders. SmartGov will innovatively integrate these data sources with Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (FCMs), to enable quantitative modelling of complex problems and simulation of dynamic behaviour of factors underlying these problems.

Building on systematic evidence reviews, the goals of SmartGov are:

  1. to develop a set of user-friendly tools in accordance with legal frameworks, including a FCM-based data-integration tool, a Social Media engine and advanced visualization tools;
  2. to test and implement the tools in cities in Cyprus (Limassol) and Spain (Quart de Poblet), and cities supporting SmartGov (Vienna and Amsterdam), 
  3. to disseminate the outcomes throughout Europe.

Programme: JPI Urban Europe - ERA-NET Cofund Smart Cities and Communities
Role: Participant (Key Research Participant)
Grant: €300.000
Principal Researchers: Dr. Reinout Kleinhans and Dr. Dr. Enzo Falco
Duration: 2016 to 2019

Financial Instruments and Territorial Cohesion

This research activity provides territorial analysis on the impacts of European Structural and Investment Funds’ (ESIF) financial instruments. What added value do ESIF financial instruments produce when implemented as a complement to grant schemes and how are the benefits distributed across countries and their regions? Where and how are financial instruments being implemented and what are the main territory-related drivers and obstacles? What does the increasing shift to financial instruments imply for the objective of territorial cohesion? Is using financial instruments as a complement to grant schemes an effective way to implement ESIF in terms of added value for territorial development? How are different territorial features, governance mechanisms and administrative capacities supporting or hindering the use of financial instruments in terms of regional development?

ESPON 2020 programme
Consortium: EPRC, University of Strathclyde (UK) (lead), Nordregio (SE), Red2Red (ES), TU Delft (NL)
Prinicipal researcher: Willem Korthals Altes 
Duration: September 2017 – March 2019

Socio-spatial inequality, deprived neighbourhoods, and neighbourhood effects (DEPRIVEDHOODS)

Socio-economic inequality is increasing, and poor and rich people are increasingly living separated in our cities. The aim of Deprivedhoods is to come to a better understanding of the relationship between socio-economic inequality, poverty and neighbourhoods. The spatial concentration of poverty within cities is of great concern to national governments, partly based on a belief in neighbourhood effects: the idea that living in deprived neighbourhoods has an additional negative effect on residents’ life chances over and above the effect of their own characteristics.

DEPRIVEDHOODS will break new ground by simultaneously studying neighbourhood sorting over the life course, neighbourhood change, and neighbourhood effects, within one theoretical and analytical framework. This project is the first integrated, multi-country research project on neighbourhood effects to use unique geo-referenced longitudinal data from Sweden, United Kingdom, Estonia, and The Netherlands. Special attention will be paid to the operationalization of neighbourhoods and how it affects modelling outcomes.

European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant
Grant: € 2.000.000
Role: coordinator
Principal Researcher: Maarten van Ham (PI)
Duration: 2014 to 2019
Mayor output

Beyond Agglomerations: Mapping Externality Fields and Network Externalities

The current dynamics in the western European urban system are in marked contrast with the bourgeoning literature stressing the importance of agglomeration for economic growth. These dynamics do not follow global trends in several respects: the population share and GDP contribution of large cities is not growing at the expense of smaller cities and urbanisation is relatively stable. Small and medium-sized cities are performing increasingly well. This requires an explanation beyond conventional agglomeration theory which suggests that the agglomeration benefits of large cities are the primary economic drivers in the world, which may be steering regional development policy in the wrong direction. 
The hypothesis explored in this project is that small and medium-sized cities are able to borrow size through being proximate to other cities and/or through being connected in networks of other cities. This means that urbanisation economies are not confined to individual agglomerations –as is the long-standing and unquestioned assumption. Instead, we hypothesise that they transform spatially into ‘urban externality fields’ and/or ‘urban network externalities’. The overarching aim of the project is to challenge and recast the geographical foundations of agglomeration theory, focusing on urbanisation economies. 

NWO – Innovational Research Incentives Scheme VIDI 
Grant: € 800.000
Principal researcher: Evert Meijers
Duration: 2015 to 2020


Territorial Approaches for New Governance

This project focuses on how territorial development is organised and managed across Europe’s member states. It provides an overview of recent trends as well as detailed examples of territorial governance from a multi-level, a multi-sector and a multiactor approach.

The research considers the potential role of spatial planning instruments and other instruments in supporting good territorial governance. A typology of current territorial governance practices in Europe is also developed (coordinated by the TUDelft team).

One of the outputs of the project is a handbook for policy officials which draws lessons from the in-depth case studies undertaken in the project.

ESPON-European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion
Grant: € 749.849
Role: partner (for € 167.000)
Principal researcher: Dominic Stead
Coordinator: NORDREGIO, Stockholm
Duration: 2011-2014


Tenancy Law and Housing Policy in Multi-Level Europe

Private tenancy law is existentially affecting the daily lives of European citizens, as about one third of them depend on rental housing. This project sets out to provide the first large-scale comparative and European law survey of tenancy law.

  • it analyses national tenancy laws and their embeddedness in, and effects on, national housing policies and markets;
  • the effect of EU legislation on national housing policy in general and national tenancy law in particular will be analysed in a comparative perspective;
  • a proposal for a better co-ordinating role of the EU in tenancy law and housing policy, in particular through an OMC process developing common principles of good “tenancy regulation”, will be designed.

This research matches well several priorities of the Stockholm programme given tenancy law’s intimate relation to social human rights and a system of law and justice working for the benefit of European citizens, in particular vulnerable groups.

Grant: € 2 692 526
Role: partner (for € 385.000)
Principal Researcher: Hendrik Ploeger
Coordinator: University of Bremen
Duration: 04/2012-10/2015

Please Do It Yourself…. on social support , professional counselling and long-term upward social mob

Social mobility is a key concept in area-based policies aimed at deprived neighbourhoods in Europe and the US. Such policies often aim to improve the living conditions in deprived neighbourhoods and at the same time stimulate the social mobility of residents.

The main objective of the project is to assess social mobility patterns and effectiveness of social mobility interventions, especially for individuals needing long-term support. The backdrop of this project is the economic crisis and serious cutbacks in government funding of area based policies, which raises questions on the effectiveness of social interventions.

The study creates a longitudinal quasiexperimental design through a second wave survey in our research area (Hoogvliet, a Rotterdam borough) and a control area.

NWO - Platform 31 (Nicis)
‘Knowledge For Strong Cities’
Grant: € 280.000
Role: coordinator
Principal Researcher: Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham
Duration: 03/2012- 05/2014

Cities 'borrowing' size: Agglomeration advantages in Polycentric Urban Regions

Can proximally-located cities borrow size from each other, so that agglomeration advantages, which increase with city size, develop to the extent of their combined size?
Generally, the larger the city, the greater the extent to which agglomeration advantages have developed. But: agglomeration disadvantages also increase with the size of cities. Empirical studies into these issues traditionally focus on single cities. However, this is becoming less relevant as in many countries formerly self-contained cities are increasingly interconnected with neighbouring cities to form 'polycentric urban regions' or 'urban networks'.

It has been suggested that in such areas the agglomeration advantages correspond to their combined size, while the agglomeration disadvantages would remain limited to the local city size. This, however, lacks empirical validation. Through combining various data and using methods which include regression analysis, correspondence analysis, GIS-analysis, benchmarking and policy analysis this project seeks to address this empirical gap.

Personal Grant: € 140.608
Researcher: Evert Meijers
Duration: 02/2008-01/2011

Research programme

Further information about the research programme Urban and Regional Studies.