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A breakthrough for urban planning decision makers

Environmental justification for optimum planning and sustainable management of urban soil is a demanding task. An innovative decision support system for urban soil appraisal has been developed with enhanced potential for a broad range of applications and commercial interest.

Climate Change and Environment

Soil, the natural medium for growth, development and reproduction of plants, comprises mineral and organic matter along with living organisms. Soil is of vital importance for global ecosystem because of its extensive interaction with other ecosystems and its major impact on the environment and human health. The need to develop a sustainable resource management tool that would facilitate strategic planning of decision makers in Europe has become apparent. Extra consideration is given to urban soil the functions of which involve support for infra-structures, recreation, preservation of air and water quality and biodiversity, etc. Increased heterogeneity horizontally and vertically, due to soil layers displacement and replacement during construction and anthropogenic activities, affects soil quality and is reckoned as an important feature. Hence, efforts have been directed towards performing a thorough investigation of the properties and functions of anthropogenic affected soil in urban areas employing a systematic approach. For this purpose, a novel Decision Support System (DSS) has been developed as a software framework integrated with environmental justification instruments. DSS basic component is a web-based on line geographic information system tool that allows users to deposit access and extract data in interchangeable formats. This knowledge base is constructed by a heuristic method involving successive stages of on line computer mediated decision support programs. A three-stage approach involving remote data input, data viewing and analysis and collaborative decision making/knowledge management is employed. Multi source data harmonisation, automatic calculations, statistical properties and comparisons are easily performed without format restraints or other limitations. Data management strategies are assessed on a questionnaire based approach. This unique tool sets a concrete foundation to an appropriate spatial decision support system on three coordinate axes: transparency, flexibility and inclusion. The innovative methodology that URBSOIL researchers applied has been a breakthrough in urban planning with a vast potential for further exploitation.

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