25 March 2019


Improving housing delivery with integrated spatial visualisation platforms

by: Senzo Nkonyane   date: 26 April 2018

Building sustainable human settlements
requires more than
bricks and mortar. We need to
understand the meaning of the word “human” in human settlements, and focus our efforts on building sustainable settlements and resilient communities.
South Africa’s strategic plan, the National
Development Plan (NDP), provides a clear vision of where we should be in
2030. Chapter 8 of this plan deals with
the transformation of human settlements and the national space economy.
Sadly though, there are still municipalities
in 2018 approving settlement plans which sometimes contain elements of
outdated spatial planning infrastructures
e.g. clustered dwellings and communal toilets, thus overlooking the “human” aspect
of human settlements.
The NDP 2030 makes a call for the delivery of flexible human settlements that
are spatially, socially and economically integrated and geospatial technologies
are playing a key role in making this vision a reality.
An integrated geospatial visualisation platform can facilitate the necessary co-ordination and oversight required to
help transform human settlements in
South Africa. Esri’s spatial visualisation platform is being used to assess the Duncan
Village redevelopment project in the Eastern Cape (Buffalo City Metropolitan
The project is one of several priority
projects targeted for intervention by the BCMM’s Human Settlements Unit to ensure that people get access to decent
housing. The Esri platform was used to
measure and assess whether the project 

demonstrates spatial, social and economic integration as envisaged by NDP
The audience at a recent seminar hosted by Esri South Africa and presented by
NT Geomatics, an Esri Business Partner,
were taken on a virtual reality tour of the Duncan Village redevelopment project,
courtesy of a range of geospatial and 3D
modelling software, which brought the full
scope of the proposed housing project to
Using the visualisation power of the
Esri platform and its ability to bring together multiple streams of information, it
was possible to demonstrate to the audience the relationship between various
aspects of the housing project. This includes assessing their feasibility, evaluating
their alignment with NDP 2030 policy objectives and identifying amendments
that need to be made to the project plan.
On the Duncan Village project, the integrated spatial visual platform has made it
possible for surveying and town planning
consultants from NT Geomatics to ascertain whether the human settlement plan
is compliant with the prevailing legislative
framework governing projects of this nature and whether space has been built

into the project plans for later needs e.g. public transport systems. Harnessing
the power of geospatial technologies in
this manner has also made it possible to identify gaps and challenges with current
government housing strategies.
The spatial platform allows for prompt access to a range of key datasets e.g.
land cover, land use and land ownership at the touch of a button. This facility has
simplified appropriate site selection for sustainable human settlements, helping
to avoid lengthy and costly land appropriation
procedures by identifying suitable
land that is more readily available.
The Esri spatial platform demonstrated that it can strengthen good governance
principles as it swiftly identified instances
of possible corruption where land intended
for human settlement had been sold off cheaply only to be offered back to the
department at inflated prices. The integration of various systems including Cadastral, Deeds, Valuation and Land Use
made this possible.
Integrated spatial visualisation platforms
have a crucial role to play in providing
sustainable human settlements in our country. Aside from the benefits of
coordinated planning, access to multiple streams of information and 3D visualisation,
the use of geospatial solutions
for human settlement project planning in South Africa enables mistakes and oversights
to be identified and rectified before they become expensive realities.
Senzo Nkonyane is an account manager
at Esri South Africa, holds a BA Degree
in Geography and a post graduate
qualification in GIS and remote sensing