New methods of 'assessment'

As Postdoctoral researcher in the research hub Transforming Cities at Utrecht University, Mansi Jain is exploring the urban transformative technique of ‘assessments’ to explore how urban transformations through infrastructures can be evaluated and monitored. Discover more about this topic and Mansi's work on this page.

What are assessments

In Mansi's research, assessment refers to frameworks that can be used to assess the potential of transformative change in infrastructural domains supporting urban transformations. The research builds upon the theories of socio-technical-ecological transitions, governance structures, and institutional change to develop frameworks that can monitor and evaluate urban transformations in an integrated way. Currently, clear and transparent strategies to assess the transformative change potential of infrastructures are lacking. Thus, the technique of ‘Assessment’ in infrastructure domains (such as Energy, Water, Waste and Mobility)  is of key importance and needs to provide a better understating of how to account for systemic change, rather than only paying attention to the performance and outcomes of ongoing operations or technological interventions through quantitative metrics such as reduced energy consumption, material flow analysis, CO2 emissions avoided, and air quality indices, etc. Some of the key dimensions which may  help to characterize and assess ongoing transition processes are the shaping of new expectations/ visions, the establishment of new social networks, the creation of learning processes, institutional alignment, and the establishment of new mode of governance.

Assessments and Mansi's research

Mansi's research is conducted within the context of urban area developments (or re-developments)  as key experimental sites. Area-wise urban developments are looked as specific change strategy to achieve urban transitions that may help to reduce complexity, harness limited geographical scale, and can be used in experimental approaches by providing specific niche contexts.  

Mansi also expands her research to integrate and apply evaluative frameworks at neighbourhood level for healthy area developments. This calls for an inter-disciplinary approach integrating the fields of sustainability transitions, urban planning and public health. The approach also provides foundation for advancing transdisciplinary research together with diverse researchers, societal stakeholders, and urban practitioners.

Credit: Cartesius Utrecht

Case study Utrecht: Cartesiusdriehoek Redevelopment, Utrecht 

In Utrecht, the redevelopment of the Cartesiusdriehoek district is inspired by the ambition to create a neighbourhood where people live longer, healthier, and happier lives. The area is set to become the healthiest, well-connected to public transport and bicycle-friendly neighbourhood in the Netherlands. In this project Mansi applies the “assessment”  technique to assess the potential of infrastructures to support healthy area development. In addition, the research also explores collaborations with researchers, city stakeholders and developers to integrate such frameworks with Health Impact Assessments (HIA) as an inter-disciplinary  approach.

Case study New Delhi: East Kidwai Nagar

In New Delhi, Mansi investigates the development of five urban neighbourhoods under the new urban redevelopment policy. These neighbourhoods provide opportunities for urban stakeholders to transform their existing centralised infrastructure  to decentralised solutions ( such as wastewater treatment plants, solid waste management). The initial research highlights a good potential to not only assess processes of infrastructural change but also give an indication of their current capacity to achieve transformative change. Further development of the framework could support cities (municipalities) and other urban stakeholders (developers and infrastructure service providers, technology provides) in making informed choices for policy-making and strategize interventions that can support cities for steering transformative change in infrastructure systems.

Interested in more of Mansi's work? Click this drop-down bar for a list of her publications.