A key challenge was the tight schedule in which the project needed to be implemented, since common developments of CityScope platforms require time and testing. Further, logistical limitations reduced the overall exposure of the CityScope tool: due to the physical size of CityScope , workshops were bound to be held at HCU; this naturally reduced the number of potential remote participants, thus contributing to a selection bias which is well-known in public participation projects. Another constraint was the lack of available urban data. Despite thorough pre-processing of urban data, non-expert participants had trouble understanding the professional planning content. As participants were not used to working with maps and satellite images, orienting the projected images and assessing them adequately was difficult. Most of these challenges are currently being addressed in the development of new CityScope platforms: open source, mobile, and easy-to-deploy CityScope platforms are currently being designed.
Conditions for success
Overall, successful CityScope deployments occur in the domain of three nodes: a clear research question (refugees housing, mobility modeling, or urban design, for example); a strong collaboration with local liaison (HCU for Hamburg); and system/UI/UX design that mitigates both (i.e, multi-station CityScope platform). Additionally, public recognition and support from professional stakeholders is crucial for successful CityScope research and innovation. Yet if a project is of high public or political interest—as the case was with FindingPlaces—the approach runs the danger of becoming instrumentalized by political forces or interest groups. In addition, sufficient data sources, research transparency, and clarity about participants' roles are critical to the users' acceptance and participation.
Since 2013, CityScope deployments took place in the Riyadh, Shanghai, Andorra, Boston, Helsinki, and Hamburg, as well as in many other cities where the open source platform (or its components) where replicated. In some cases, such as in Andorra, Hamburg, or Boston, CityScope is in active use by both stakeholders and communities.
At MIT, much of the current development of CityScope's next generation revolves around creating an open source, components-based, and scalable platform. This effort has the developing world in mind, so that less privileged cities could eventually incorporate CityScope in their planning and decision-making toolset. Currently, several global organizations are working with the CityScope team to allow deployments at scale for cities in their regions.
In context of the FindingPlaces project, several bodies dealing with immigration (including the European Commission) have made CityScope FindingPlaces a case study and part of their future toolset for refugee accommodation.