The City of Johannesburg introduces the development and piloting of its first Inner City Spatial Model. 

Johannesburg is stepping into the future by creating a digital clone of the city, a plan aimed at breaking down the decades-old spatial divides and providing the government with deeper insights into the population of the country’s richest and most populous urban space. 

The project is said to provide more detailed data about what is happening at street level of Johannesburg, such as insights into population concentrations, the location and accessibility of services, and the immediate needs of communities. 

The project is still in its pilot stages. The launchers of the project, Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) together with the Department of Planning, have not been able to provide any concrete information about how it would fully function in the future.  

Poppy Louw, the spokeswoman for the City of Johannesburg, told Wits Vuvuzela, “It is important to note that this is a pilot project and hence the absolute final outcome is still being imagined. However, the ultimate intent is to have a digital 3D model of the pilot area, not the entire inner city, that would display data as collected” 

The digital clone, when finalised, will provide a real-world replica of Johannesburg. It is not known how the final product will look like, for now it is a pie in the sky. 

Otsile Mantsho, a bachelor of science student in architecture, told Wits Vuvuzela, “This project will make architectural development and spatial planning be easier than it is now, but that will all depend on the execution of the app.” She added “In architecture, we need an app that can do more than Google Map, so this project should be prioritised as spatial resolution needs to be made easier.  I’ve done projects in Johannesburg where all I could use was Google Maps. Even though it gets the job done, the process is longer.” 

The Department of Development’s Louw defended the plan: “The project has a specific objective, to assist the city itself with better informed decision-making, such as land development guidance, service and amenity provision, and general issues affecting urban management,” Louw said.  “The project seeks to break down barriers to access critical spatial and urban quality data that either exist on separate inaccessible platforms or does not exist at all,” she added. 

The project will cost an estimated R3 million and is currently in testing phase.   

FEATURED IMAGE: A view of Johannesburg, Braamfontein. Photo: Natasha Joos