Data mapping informs home visits in Istanbul

Four municipalities in Istanbul – Beyoğlu, Maltepe, Sarıyer and Sultanbeyli – began home visiting services in 2018, targeting their resources according to maps of all the city’s municipalities that were developed by Kadir Has University’s Istanbul Studies Center and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation to help visualise where and how the most disadvantaged children are living.

Using maps to identify needs and opportunities

When we started to think about a strategy for Istanbul we asked ourselves: where are the most disadvantaged children? A data mapping exercise visualised the relationships between factors such as real estate values and how children of different age groups are distributed through the city. The presentation of the initial version of the map in 2017 was attended by representatives from 25 of Istanbul’s 39 district municipalities.

The four front-running municipalities then worked with our partner Boğaziçi University to develop the first home visiting model with Turkey-specific content to support parents of children aged up to 3 years. Mostly targeting disadvantaged families, the curriculum has 73 modules and involves visits every two weeks, from late pregnancy until the child reaches 36 months. It draws on various international models: Jamaica’s Reach Up and Learn, the PATH adaptation of Care for Child Development, and the World Health Organization’s Thinking Healthy.

Home visit held in Sultanbeyli, one of the municipalities participating in home visiting trial in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Courtesy of Cihan Özdamar.

From home visiting to public space

As well as being used to identify families to participate in the home visiting programme, the maps also served as the basis for beginning a discussion about what municipalities can do to improve the design and use of parks and public space for young children and families.

This led to a three-way partnership involving Studio-X Istanbul, the urban laboratory of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, which will host a series of events to influence a large network of designers, architects and urban planners; Superpool, an architecture company which will work the municipalities to experiment with new design ideas; and the Arts and Design Faculty of Kadir Has University, which offers a module on Urban95 to its MA students in urban design, and has developed an independent MA course devoted to Urban95 which is expected to launch in 2019.