There is no denying the complexity of Jerusalem’s population, and such a population requires a similarly complex spectrum of needs. In an effort to meet all those needs and identify where and what elements are lacking, the municipality’s Community Services Administration commissioned a Master Plan from JIIS to address this many-layered matter. The massive task commenced in mid-2009 when the research team – Dr. Maya Choshen, Israel Kimhi, Michal Korach and Yair Assaf-Shapira – set about mapping the current situation and preparing plans for the future. Their mandate was to encompass the Community Services Administration’s areas of responsibility: social welfare, public health, immigrant absorption and employment.
“There was a lot to tackle,” says Choshen. “Jerusalem, apart from being Israel’s largest city, is such a diverse human mosaic of cultures and communities, not to mention socioeconomic levels, that we had to first agree on where to start.” That did not take too long: one of their first discoveries was that no overall plan existed listing the number – or lack – of buildings and areas of land slated to cater to future needs. So they set about listing the available edifices and noting what was missing, whether physical structures or land sites. They went on to identify the target users of the various systems, evaluate urban and demographic trends, and examine alternate solutions that the City could employ in the coming 20 years.
They have thus slowly but surely built a database that covers and cross-references the city’s physical infrastructures, the basket of community services provided by the City and the people who use them. Working in close contact with the Administration staff, airing and refining their ideas along the way, proved to be very valuable. “The willingness to collaborate and the professionalism of each and every one of the people we worked with really helped us in our work. Moreover, we saw how much they all want to provide the best possible services for the city’s residents,” says Choshen.
Their methodology included interviewing the heads of the various units that work under the Administration, visiting the many centers and offices around the city that provide the services in question, and collating their findings. During the course of this comprehensive project, JIIS submitted several interim reports addressing the short- and long-term issues to be addressed and the range of services most suited to the different communities' needs. The Master Plan, now in its final stages of preparation, comprises the database, updated analyses and a GIS (Geographic Information System), all of which will serve as primary tools for the Administration to update, manage and plan the city's community services.