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Reports on the Condition of Polish Cities

An essential research component of the our Programme is series of Reports on the Condition of Polish Cities (housing, transport and urban mobility, urban regeneration, demographics, spatial management, public participation, investments and economic development, environment).

The first cycle on the Observatory pilot research allowed for diagnosing the condition of development of Polish cities in individual thematic areas of the National Urban Policy document, working out the proposed ways of operationalization of the particular objectives of the NUP and desired level of their implementation for the cities’ individual groups and categories, till the year 2023. This task also implies a continious advisory support of the relevant Ministry, in particular the departments responsible for  monitoring the urban policies.

Urban Regeneration.
The Condition of Polish Cities Report

The National Urban Policy 2023 document makes urban regeneration one of the ten thematic areas vital for the development of Polish Cities. Following this idea, in October 2015 the Polish Parliament adopted the act on urban regeneration. It not only creates a new framework for conducting regeneration activities, but also emphasizes the role of local communities in the process. The act’s entry into force gave the local government authorities new tools for carrying out regeneration actions, such as the municipal regeneration program or special urban regeneration area. This long-awaited act sparked interest in the issue of urban regeneration in Poland. In the context of the current EU financial perspective, local authorities have noted that it is possible to finance the process from EU resources. As a result, a great many regeneration programs have been prepared and adopted. 

The monitoring part of the report takes a look at regeneration programs in all Polish cities, with particular attention to planned regeneration projects. The Insight, monographical part covers four key issues, that were the subject of the 5th Urban Regeneration Congress: “Urban regeneration systems in Poland: ups and downs” (2018). The issues are as follows: city center regeneration, urban shrinkage and regeneration, regeneration and housing, urban regeneration and renewal of rural areas. This part also presents and sums up the experience gained during regeneration projects carried out by pilot and model cities.

The Condition of Polish Cities Report

One of the basic, existential needs is having a place to live, as it allows to fulfill the right to start a family. The availability of housing is a problem especially in cities.  As pointed out by researchers, this market is a phenomenon extending way beyond the rules of a simple market game – this is why its regulation should be among the key dimensions of urban policy.

The publication consists of two parts. The first, monitoring, concerns housing policy of cities. Among the examined issues are: the number of communal apartments and their residents,  rental conditions, rent rates and outplacement procedures. The second part, “Insight” is of problematic nature. The experts take on the following issues: communal long-term housing management programmes (for the first time a quantitative and qualitative analysis of these documents was conducted), seniors’ living conditions, social housing rental  programs and financial policy regarding housing management.

Transport and Urban Mobility.
The Condition of Polish Cities Report

The issue of transport plays an important role in the everyday functioning of a city. How a transport policy is pursued has an equal impact on the environment, spatial management as and quality of life in the city. The rapid increase in car use in recent years contributed to many negative events, such as air pollution, noise or congestion. The problem also lies in the degradation of urban spaces, annexed for the purpose of car use. 

In the monitoring part, the transport policy of Polish local governments was examined. For instance, identification of the condition of municipal public transport systems and analysis of the commute-related circular migration were conducted. In this part of the publication, the authors also examine the problems of transport systems in urban functional areas. In part II (Insight), the experts take a closer look at transport behaviour in Poland, courses of urban transport policy, the communal investments considering public transport, the importance of railways in transport service of agglomerations and city bike systems.

Governance and Cooperation in Urban Functional Areas.
The Condition of Polish Cities Report

If the cities are to develop properly, achieve set goals and solve arising problems, it is crucial to adopt a relevant model of governance and cooperation between the municipalities (communes). Organizational solutions should respond to changing functional connections between core cities and their surroundings.

This is why in the first part of the report (Monitoring) we inspected urban functional areas in the context of cooperation between local governments, the availability and integration of public transport, and Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI, pol. ZIT). The research was planned and orchestrated in such a way that data can be collected steadily. Also synthetic indicators are constructed so that they are comparable in the longest time-span. 

Part II takes on the issue of territorial states, developed around external resources. Views on cooperation to-date were examined, as well as the possibilities of their continuation and expectations towards various instruments. The publication also provides an insight into the legal basis for cooperation between local governments. 

Carbon efficiency and energetic effectivity.
The Condition of Polish Cities Report

As it was done in the New Urban Policy Document, in our reports we separate the environment from carbon efficiency. This approach results from the EU’s adoption of two climate and energy packages. Their assumption is to dynamically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and halve energy consumption in the coming years, as well as improve energy efficiency. At the same time, the share of renewable energy in the total energy consumption is planned to increase. These challenges apply mainly to cities and their functional areas.

The monitoring part of the report analyzes plans for the low-carbon economy and current level of greenhouse gases emission as well as the energy consumption. The insight part the activities and plans of local governments for the coming years regarding the reduction of emission and energy consumption.

Economic development.
The State of Polish Cities Report

Cities concentrate investments and workplaces. Their development – of all Polish cities, also smaller ones – is a significant contribution to the economic potential, both at the regional and national level. This publication inaugurates a series of thematic reports prepared at the Urban Policy Observatory.

In the monitoring part, we tried to comprehensively present the economic condition of all Polish cities. The conducted research focuses to the following issues: entrepreneurship and the labor market, functions and specializations of city centers, investment zones, and technological advancement of companies. The extent to which companies run their operations knowledge-based was also studied

The second part of the report (Insight) is of problematic nature. Three issues, particularly important for the economic development of Polish cities, have been examined in details: the function of economic locomotives in socio-economic development of cities and their role for the national economy condition; creating investment zones as a fundament for socio-economic success on the local level; eventually – the issue of managing the communal property as a basis and and a way of stimulating economic development by the local authorities. 


Can knowledge on cities be more accessible? We are positive that it can, and that is why we put at your disposal our geoportal presenting the results of the IURD Urban Policy Observatory research. Here one can find detailed information about the issues that printed versions of reports on Polish cities do not contain or, due to a more synthetic approach, are found in a limited number. Visualized data is available according to selected indicators and thematic areas like: housing, transport and urban mobility, economic development, governance and cooperation in urban functional areas and varia: maps not attributed to thematic reports.

Urban data 

We identified a key problem distorting the assessment of the city’s development level and making it hard to manage. It emerges from our experience of analysing urban data and from dozens of conversations with local government and business representatives. The problem is the quality of data stored by local administration and lack of system regulations in the field of collecting, managing and sharing such data. We find the question of data access, its integration and ways of processing crucial for running mor integrated and evidence-based urban policy. According to the GIGO rule ( „garbage in, garbage out”) no analysis can produce reliable results, if it was ill-prepared (technologically or substance-wise). Moreover, the absence of standarized procedures of administrative data collecting makes it impossible to utilize it on higher levels of governance, as such groups of data are not comparable.

In Urban Policy Observatory our everyday struggle is to improve the quality of urban data so our analyses can be of the highest possible precision.

Every entity that governs or analyzes the city has one purpose – to make the best possible assessment. A growth in quality and potential of collected data works in favor of all who govern the city. So why shouldn’t we initiate actions leading to this goal?

This complex problem can be divided into the following issues:

  1. the content and data correctness – what the individual types of data mean? What definitions one should use when formulating the objective of and scope of collected data?
  2. data form and format – which data types need to be digitalized? What is their potential of georeferencing? What format is best, depending on the data type? In what format should the data be produced in order to be imported into many systems?
  3. data characteristics and potential – what is the minimal range and scope of data that a city authorities should collect? To which reference units should data be collected? How to formulate the contract paragraphs to ensure that the purchased data can be used with no restrictions? What actions should be taken to make it possible to make the data open?
  4. data integration – in what type the data should be to allow for their integration, regardless of the system used? What tools should be used for integration?
  5. Urban Database Management System – what should be its objectives?

These and other, similar questions are faced by more and more entities implementing their own ideas. To become familiar with good practices and try to create an unified approach to urban data integration, we created a place to monitor works dedicated to improving the data quality in local governments.