Visualizing urban data

Urbinsight is a dynamic mapping platform that analyzes and visualizes environmental data for cities globally. Designed through a community oriented process that leverages residents’ inherent spatial knowledge, users can view relevant and visually appealing map layers as well as input data based on quality of life surveys and parcel audits conducted by local stakeholders.

Urbinsight is an approach to neighborhood environmental accounting that is transparent, rational, open source, transferrable from city to city, scalable from parcel to neighborhood, and suitable for analyzing different resource streams in isolation and in combination.

The processes visualize urban resource flows, including water, energy, materials and food, from source to sink (nature to nature). With a standardized database structure, urban resource flow information systems introduce a systems perspective to people with diverse backgrounds and to neighborhoods that wish to become more sustainable.

Connecting communities with web-based mapping tools

Based on a bottom-up approach to documenting environmental conditions at the neighborhood scale, our custom open source Urbinsight Project Platform connects communities with web-based mapping tools as well as the training and knowledge to holistically explore and measure urban health.

Explore the platform’s layered maps created with data collected by our partners in Cusco and Medellín.

Urban Metabolism

Urbinsight organizes environmental information related to water, energy, waste/materials, food, etc., in a structure that mirrors the urban metabolism. Information is classified by Stages (e.g. Sources, Upstream Infrastructure, Demand, Downstream Infrastructure, and Sinks), and within each Stage, information can be further classified according to the various Nodes or Junctions (e.g. Sources might include Lake, River, Groundwater, Rain, Imported bottles). Further information can be classified according to the water flow network – the connections or tubes that connect the Junctions and that vary by season or time of day.

In this way, Urbinsight can test and implement a data framework that is directly aligned with the actual metabolism, linking all the relevant information on both natural and built environments. This robust and linked approach to the information system can track a wide variety of flows, including energy, food, and materials. In essence, the metabolism becomes a mental map that anyone can use to organize, relate and access information.

This urban metabolism can be analyzed and then visualized for easy communications, similar to maps. If the structure is robust, the various resource flows can be aggregated to different spatial scales as desired – like zooming in or out on a map. The common structure also ensures that many neighborhood environmental Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) become transparent, comparable and much more comprehensive.

Through the Urbinsight Platform the concept of local participation can be applied to urban metabolism. Similar to mapping, a standard protocol is adopted and tested in disparate locations. The result is referred to as a Participatory Urban Metabolism Information System (PUMIS). PUMIS promises to be a timely innovation, as neighborhoods seek to become more self-reliant, and as cities seek to adopt multi-level, collaborative forms of governance.

Ecocity Information Models

Explore the layers and basemaps of our Ecocity Information Models (ECIM) for Lima, Cusco, and Medellín.



The Urbinsight GeoNode serves as a user friendly corridor for collaborators and partners to directly integrate datasets into our Urbinsight project platform and ensures all data automatically adheres to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards.

Explore GeoNode data & maps for Cusco & Medellin.


As field implementers of Secondary Cities, an initiative of the Office of the Geographer to map for resiliency, human security, and emergency preparedness, Ecocity Builders and its academic and community partners gathered the neighborhood data to create storymaps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content, using Esri ArcGIS software.

Explore the storymaps of Cusco and Medellín.