Building a Global Standard for Future Built Environment Data

Project Sponsor

  • Tyce Herrman, Head of Product, inCitu
  • Dana Chermesh-Reshef, Founder & CEO, inCitu


Most people have no reliable, trustworthy tools to help them envision the future of their urban home. Plans for new developments are inaccessible or opaque, with data scattered in marketing documents, filings, permits, databases, maps, and more. inCitu is on the mission to make urban development information transparent, tangible, and accessible to promote a more equitable city planning process and empower residents in the process of urban change. In this Capstone project students will review different city planning datasets and resources in varied US urban areas to create a gold standard for urban development data collection and management.

Category: Urban Environment

Project Description & Overview

In a world in which information about proposed and upcoming changes to the built environment is publicly available yet highly inaccessible and/or hard to understand, both residents and professionals find themselves struggling to parse the data and work together effectively and transparently. Different cities have very different data and data collection standards which makes it hard to analyze and understand urban dynamics in the city, regional, and national scale. 

Without a standard, anyone working with future built environment data is stuck learning the intricacies of each community’s data metadata. In the same way GTFS standardized transit data timetables and made them useable for products like Google Maps aimed at end users, we envision a consistent and reusable standard for proposed and planned infrastructure developments, unlocking the ability to visualize and understand how communities will change. 

This capstone project will develop a new data specification for the future built environment. Students will first explore using the existing Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS). Students will research and analyze 5 US cities’ development and planning datasets and interfaces, will compare them to one another and with BLDS, and use their learnings to build a new global standard for the future built environment, to be advocated nationally. This new data standard will take into consideration new technology capabilities such as 3D and advanced visualization methods to ensure a standard that meets today’s challenges and opportunities. We will work with open data only extracted through code and data science practices.


We will use open data only from selected city in the US.


  • Python
  • Data science
  • Data visualization
  • Urban planning
  • Real estate development 

Learning Outcomes & Deliverables

The final deliverables of this capstone project will be an example dataset showcasing the new planning and development data standards, with at least two cities as example of translating its data into the new specifications. A supportive metadata and data collection / modification guidelines will accompanied the example dataset.

In addition, a web page presenting this data over a map with a simple interface for a user to look for planning information.