Joining forces and creating opportunities for research and development
to support public investment and decision making
in cities, towns and settlements.


Spatial and Temporal Evidence for Planning in South Africa (stepSA) as collaborative research initiative - stepSA is a collaborative initiative aimed at building the capability and evidence base to support high impact and transformative investment decisions in SA’s cities, towns and settlements. Innovative R&D enables profiling of growth and development dynamics and simulating the spatial outcomes of growth and public investment in cities and towns. Read more >>

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Project Partners & Collaborators

The stepSA collaborative initiative and dissemination of outputs and findings are being hosted and actively managed, taken forward and supported through a core team from DST, CSIR and HSRC. Read more about the stepSA DST, CSIR & HSRC Project Teams.

Current partners and innovation contributors:
Research and innovation within the current stepSA initiative is actively taken forward and supported through a number of projects and collaborative efforts. Read more >>

Contributors and project building blocks in stepSA innovation and impact pathways:
Research and innovation within the stepSA initiative and its fore runner projects have been the concerted and cumulative effort of a wide range of role players. Read more >>

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Key Focus Areas & Impact

Generating and sharing spatial evidence to support investment decisions in cities, towns and regions - Place specific indicators, movement trends and profiles are being developed to support planners, officials and investment decision-makers in understanding dynamic change in cities and rural regions to inform, prioritise and co-ordinate investment decisions. Even though the research outputs are generated through project and policy specific research and advanced spatial analyses, the outputs are being disseminated freely via the stepSA website and viewers. This is aimed at supporting location choices and specifically municipal, provincial and national spatial and sector planning processes, and the development of SDFs, IDPs and sector investment frameworks.

  • View and download spatial comparisons between 9 different SA cities
  • Profile and download comparative spatial development trends for regions across the country
  • Read more about multi criteria indexes, movement trends and place specific socio-economic indicators in and between cities, towns and rural settlements

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Break through innovations in modelling technologies to explore the impact of growth and investment in cities, settlements and regions - One of stepSA’s flagship contributions is the foundation laid for the customisation and adaptation of the urban simulation capability to simulate future growth scenarios, and planned interventions on spatial form and household expenditure in SA’s metros. In addition to ongoing innovation to utilise and open up access to urban simulation within metros, stepSA is also exploring land-use and town growth modelling and technologies to simulate the impact of growth trends and movement patterns on future housing and infrastructure investment decisions. Read more >>

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Research findings and policy implications to improve investment impact, sustainability and rural and urban human experiences in cities, towns and settlements. Innovation and evidence to support effective service delivery and high impact public investment in cities, towns and rural settlements have played a key role in generating findings to inform and support key government policy and planning processes in urban and rural South Africa. Read more >>

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Building national capability through human capital development, joined up research focus and collaborative technology innovation. Throughout all research and development activities and outputs, the stepSA initiative and its fore runner projects, remained committed to building human capital and providing opportunities for sharing and collaborating in key research themes. Read more >>

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Project Governance & Management

stepSA Facilitating Collaboration in Research and Technology Development. stepSA has established its viability beyond an original science and capability based investment project (largely funded by the Department of Science and Technology) to an initiative that supports ongoing research and collaboration. The CSIR and HSRC currently provides an institutional home for ongoing research and development that strongly feeds into initiatives by national departments, municipalities and government agencies for application and adaptation within their particular domains or areas of jurisdiction. Read more >>

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As Founding Partner, DST support enables much needed modeling and simulation capability. The 2015/2016 investment by the Department of Science and Technology, main founder of the stepSA initiative, supports the development of much needed indicative datasets, and provides a basis for migration and land use modelling in South Africa. Read more >>

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stepSA Reference Group guiding priorities - Research and development priorities and impact within the stepSA initiative will be guided by an inter-departmental reference group. Being relevant in the past, the various project components were informed by priorities and needs of a range of government role players represented on a reference group who were operating between 2012 and 2014. For the new phase of stepSA key role players are being approached for establishment of a reference group during 2015.

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Background & History

Developing the national capability to create spatial evidence and simulate spatial implications of city, town and settlement growth - DST’s vision to support the much identified need for high impact investment and intergovernmental co-ordination through enhancing spatial evidence and simulating spatial implications of city, town and settlement growth in a highly dynamic developing country context, gave rise to the original TIP (Toolkit for Integrated Planning) and IPDM (Integrated Planning, Development and Modelling) projects.

The DST commissioned the CSIR and the HSRC, to develop an IPDM to support integrated planning, development and service delivery for South Africa. This multi-year, multi-phase initiative focused on developing, collating and disseminating the knowledge and evidence generated by series of advanced spatial analysis and modelling platforms via the stepSA web-based portal. Read more >>

Featured Collaborator:

South African Local Government Association (SALGA)

In a recent letter to DST and the stepSA team, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) explicitly stated their intention to participate as a collaborator on the further development of the StepSa portal, stating that: “The current range of spatial indicators, town profiles and advanced spatial analyses data available on the StepSA portal has been identified as a key input to economic development and settlement development strategies for municipalities.” ...

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Featured Project:

SACN State of the Cities Report

Urbanisation has become a powerful force in the world and we now live in an era where more people live in towns and cities than ever before. Cities in the South (including South Africa) have also grown rapidly, not only due to the obvious economic opportunities and employment prospects, but also as people view cities as potential places where livelihoods can be improved as people also seek better access to services. To assess the progress made by South African cities in the last 20 years in relation to development outcomes as well as to identify strategic problems and opportunities facing cities, the South African Cities Network is producing the latest State of the Cities Report...

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