2023 SAG Award Winners

Beirut Urban Lab - American University of Beirut

View Photo(s) of Award Presentation

Project Goal

Rent remains the main form of shelter acquisition in Beirut. Research investigating impediments to shelter acquisition in Lebanon has shown that the lack of information about housing quality and pricing constitutes a substantial hurdle for those looking to rent or buy housing in Beirut (Fawaz 2009). Lack of transparency further generates severe inequities among city dwellers, disadvantaging particularly the most vulnerable social groups who often pay overpriced rates for substandard units (Fawaz el al, 2014). This lack of transparency is also a severe impediment to adequate public policymaking: with no information about actual needs and/or costs, and what factors influence the latter, it is evidently impossible to regulate the housing market. Consequently, improving market visibility is a necessary first step towards the formulation of responsive public policies that can address the rental sector and ultimately serve the goals of housing justice.
Learn more about us
Learn more about our application: Site 1 | Site 2

Business Problem Solved

The Beirut Urban Lab sought to conceive a knowledge database about tenancy conditions that incorporates data collection, data visualization and data dissemination tools. The lab decided to leverage geographic information systems (GIS) technology to crowdsource, collect, map, and share information on Beirut’s rental market.

Technology Implemented

City of Tenants is designed to be user-fed whereby tenants and researchers can log rental costs in relation to housing conditions for rented-out units. The platform also allows sharing information collected in accessible and clear form.
The team conceived an ESRI Hub Site containing embedded Experience Builder and Dashboard modules. The platform incorporates ArcGIS Survey123 and ArcGIS Experience Builder to collect data about the units’ occupancy status. ArcGIS Experience Builder allows the data collected to be displayed in a compelling web application on a single screen. In addition to the survey information, the platform uses dashboards as a visualization and analytical tool and Map Viewer, a software, as a service technology to show the city of Beirut with base layers and information about collected data such as average rents by zone and surveyed locations. The platform is optimized for Arabic and English, and its functionality extends to desktop and mobile devices.

Development Team Biography

Project Directors:
Mona Fawaz, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the American University of Beirut
Ahmad Gharbieh, Professor of Graphic Design at American University of Beirut

Project Coordinators:
Hayes Buchanan, Mapping and Data Visualization Coordinator: He supports the Lab’s research efforts by conceptualizing, designing and producing maps and other infographics across our portfolio of projects. Hayes received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia and his Master’s in Urban Planning from Columbia University with an emphasis on the built environment and international development.

Abir Zaatari, Research Coordinator: Abir’s research focuses on urban housing and land policies and how they influence different modes of housing provision and acquisition. She received her Bachelor's in Architecture and Master's in Urban Planning from the American University of Beirut.