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Investigaciones geográficas

versão On-line ISSN 2448-7279versão impressa ISSN 0188-4611


CACERES SEGUEL, César  e  AHUMADA VILLAROEL, Griselda. Evaluation of Gaps in Urban Infrastructure in Neighborhoods in Viña del Mar, Chile: a Methodology for the Identification of Urban Deserts. Invest. Geog [online]. 2018, n.97, 00007. ISSN 2448-7279.

The configuration of urban household areas has gained relevance from evidence suggesting that the quality of cultural, health, educational or recreational infrastructure in neighborhoods plays a key role in the improvement or deterioration in the conditions of structural disadvantage of certain social groups. From a political perspective, the distribution of urban property is a core element of Welfare Status. Today, likely in response to the functional specialization that prevails in today’s urban centers, this issue has gained a central importance as a strategy to fight urban inequality. This is evidenced in the call of the UN Habitat III initiative to build cities having an adequate network of services and public spaces, aimed at promoting inclusive areas the local inhabitants. The configuration of household areas is a topic deserving investigation in Latin America, as it challenges the concept of the city as a place where human needs are resolved.

In Chile, a survey on urban quality of life conducted by the government reveals data showing gaps in urban infrastructure across household areas of different socioeconomic levels, as well as low levels of use and appreciation of cultural and recreational areas available in neighborhoods. In this regard, 71% of respondents to the urban quality of life survey conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in 2010 evidences that the deficit of green areas is a serious issue in the city. At the same time, 51.3% points to a nil or virtually nil use of parks and squares in their cities. These data document that we have learned to build cities fitted to resist earthquakes, at the expense of neglecting the physical and emotional well-being of the inhabitants. By focusing on reducing the housing deficit, we have disregarded the development of socially homogeneous neighborhoods with poor infrastructure.

The Chilean policy on urban development has established the need to advance urban planning and management tools under spatial fairness criteria. The National Council for Urban Development has proposed a system of urban indicators and standards that seek to monitor the development of the Chilean city. However, this challenge demands methodologies for a precise diagnosis of those urban areas with the highest deficit in terms of infrastructure and services. With the city of Viña del Mar as a study case, we developed a methodology for the identification of urban deserts (MIDU) to assesses the distance of each block to a set of urban equipment considered basic (squares, gymnasiums, libraries, health care centers, schools, supermarkets) using the spatial analysis ARCGIS, in three household areas across the city (Miraflores Alto-Miraflores Bajo; Forestal; and Población Vergara). The aspects investigated were potential differences in accessibility to urban infrastructure between neighborhoods of different socioeconomic level; percentage of blocks located beyond the maximum distances to urban infrastructure resources recommended in literature guidelines; types of infrastructure resources with the best/worst accessibility levels in the areas studied.

For Miraflores Alto and Forestal, the analysis shows an intensive urbanization pattern regarding housing but deficient in cultural and recreational resources. There is an emerging urbanization model that disengages the basic urban structure (population, services, mobility), favoring single-function housing schemes that minimize the role of proximity infrastructure in meeting everyday human needs. This represents a partial reasoning regarding urban development, exacerbated by informal urbanization processes at the metropolitan edges.

In a scenario where urban management requires objective diagnostic tools, the MIDU methodology allows a detailed analysis of the supply of urban infrastructure in household areas, identifying with precision the existence of infrastructure "deserts" in specific areas of the city. The analysis derived from the MIDU methodology is a basic input for the development of urban investment plans under a social redistribution criterium. In this sense, the improvement the impact of policies dealing with healthcare, sports, public libraries or recycling, starts by acknowledging the neighborhood as the first scale for implementation and measurement of these initiatives. More than a matter of urban design, this directly impacts on the permeation of social policies, i.e., in the ability of policies to be linked and influence the organization of the daily life of local inhabitants. The Chilean city will be more inclusive when no girl or elderly adult live beyond a ten-minute walk from a playground or library. The democratization of the urban quality of life starts by building significant places in the citizen’s everyday environment.

Palavras-chave : Neighborhoods; urban development; social inequity; urban infrastructure, geographic information systems.

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