An online collaborative vacancy mapping platform adapted for Bremen.
The Leerstandsmelder (‘vacancy indicator’) is a private initiative launched in Hamburg in 2010. It is a Europe-wide platform, which enables registered users to map vacant spaces and buildings. Each participating city has a separate subdomain and a city profile, providing an overview of the city’s vacant properties. It is used especially by activists, who want to map all vacancy as a statement towards making better use of such spaces. Initiatives use it to find space to develop their ideas and plans, while entrepreneurs use it to seek out business locations. It is also used by the administration, even though as a tool it is not 100% accurate, since as it relies on individual contributions. The Bremen section was launched in February 2012.
Easy, direct vacancy reporting
The reports submitted by users gradually create a freely accessible dataset on vacancy in the city, including photos, comments and ideas for what to do with the vacant properties. Since 2012 around 900 buildings and brownfields have been mapped in Bremen with the help of this tool. In the meantime, many of these have either been demolished or are now being rented once again. As of June 2016, the tool showed 770 vacancies in Bremen.
The vacancy indicator is run by a private association in Hamburg. Those responsible for the Bremen section are the founders of ZZZ Bremen, a temporary use agency bridging the efforts of the city of Breme, who seek to revitalise degraded areas of the city, and private initiatives looking for space.
Wide recognition and use but with some challenges
The advantage of this tool is that it is a uniform platform used by many cities. As such, the tool has much larger community and greater recognition than any tool that would be used in a single city. All the cities working with the tool are indirectly helping new cities to get started in an easier manner.
One challenge in adopting and implementing the vacancy indicator was to convince the city of Bremen to use it as an official tool. There is considerable awareness of private owners’ reactions to this: some have already complained about the mapping of their empty property. Most people, however, are not too concerned about it.
An additional challenge is getting enough people to keep the site updated for every part of the city, especially in the case of buildings which are now in use again but not indicated as such. This issue stems from the fact that it is easy to fund and raise awareness of the tool in the beginning, but difficult to keep people’s attention for a prolonged period.
By Oliver Hasemann (ZZZ, DE), Daniel Schnier (ZZZ, DE)
Contact Leerstandsmelder for more information:
Or take a look at this videoreport from Radio Bremen TV (in German):