Skip to main content

Policy Development based on Advanced Geospatial Data Analytics and Visualisation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PoliVisu (Policy Development based on Advanced Geospatial Data Analytics and Visualisation)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-10-31

Today, there is a widespread expectation that policy making should be more agile to keep pace with changes in society and technology. Low cost of sensors combined with easy access to cloud storage has led to widespread collection of large datasets. However, the overwhelming nature of big data limits the capacity of institutions to manage it in a meaningful way, let alone extract useful insights. As a result, cities around the globe, despite having lots of data at their disposal, often struggle to put it to good use. By effectively harnessing advanced visualisation technologies, policy stakeholders can begin to unlock value from hitherto unused data to explore their cities in new ways together with citizens.

The use of visualisations, particularly place-based visualisations, deserves special attention in the context of policy co-creation. Spatially referenced visuals can foster a common understanding among citizens about living conditions and any problems that they and their communities are facing. Interaction with the spatial context via digital tools makes it easier for people to spot local issues, identify current/future priorities and suggest the best course of action to policy makers. Geospatial maps and charts can be visually appealing, but they are more than eye candies. When used to their full potential, they provide a means to facilitate public participation in democratic life.

PoliVisu's overarching objective is to help public administrations easily explore, experiment and co-create innovative approaches in response to local problems so that cities can benefit from more sustainable policy decisions, creating win-win opportunities for all.
The main project results are as follows:
- International best practice award from EPSA (2019)
- More data driven and evidence based policy making in three original pilot cities: Pilsen, Ghent and Issy-les-Moulineaux.
- Improved transferability potential of the PoliVisu framework thanks to Proof of Concept testing in four new locations: Flanders, Mechelen, Františkovy Lázně and Solva.
- 8 different data types used for decision making: cellular data, citizen science data, ANPR data, road sensor data, GIPOD data, traffic model data, floating card data, traffic accident data
- 12 advanced visualisations catering to the needs of 7 different locations in Europe
- 107 citizens engaged in local pilot activities
- 141 webinar participants that benefited from online training
- 76 learnings enrolled in the PoliVisu online course
- 21 international case studies published on the PoliVisu Toolbox
- 55 events of different scale and format where PoliVisu was presented
- 57 publications ranging from peer-reviewed articles to third-party reports that talk about PoliVisu and its results
- 1671 followers across different social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn

All this was possible thanks to achievements within individual work packages:
- WP1 Ethics Requirements provided important guidance to project partners, particularly those involved in pilot activities, on data privacy and security, enabling them to carry out work with citizens in accordance with relevant legislation, notably the GDPR.
- WP2 Project and Quality Management applied tried and trusted project management techniques to motivate all partners to work in unison towards a common goal. At an operational level, WP2 ensured consistency and quality in the consortium's work. It provided the necessary templates and instructions, organised meetings and monitored risks, responded to individual queries and liaised with the European Commission.
- WP3 Policy Making and Experimentation Cycle reimagined the traditional policy framework to make it more experimental and adaptive to everyday challenges. In this new approach, policy making cycles run as one continuous experimentation, enabling policy makers, service managers and citizens to work together using new data and advanced visualisation tools.
- WP4 Technical Components extended, enhanced and adapted different software tools in order to make their integration as part of WP5 easier. WP4 also designed the necessary interfaces, services, APIs and standards to promote interoperability and reuse of project results.
- WP5 Components Integration built on the results of the previous work package to implement the PoliVisu Toolbox with a particular focus on system reliability, stability, and performance; navigation and ease of use; user needs and requirements; content range, diversity and quality.
- WP6 Pilot Scenarios and Deployment successfully tested the policy making model developed by WP3 in several demonstrator locations across Europe. Pilot cycles proceeded in an iterative, experimental fashion. An embedded feedback loop between local researchers and technical and policy teams made it possible to feed new insights and lessons learned into the overall project solution on a continuous basis.
- WP7 Policy Impact and Evaluation used a mixed method research approach to evaluate the impact of local pilot activities.
- WP8 Dissemination, Exploitation and Standardisation deployed a multi-pronged outreach campaign that helped PoliVisu become a recognisable brand in pilot locations and beyond. An important step in this direction was the creation of a training module that included webinars, workshops and an online course. Also, WP8 greatly benefitted from the Horizon Results Booster programme that enabled the project to create an advanced business plan for a selection of exploitable results.
PoliVisu created over 12 policy visualisations inside and outside the project, demonstrating the transferability of the PoliVisu approach. A book and a Data for Policy Making online course (on the Open University's Open Learn Create MooC) were launched to educate people on the benefits of data visualisations for better policy making.

In PoliVisu’s pilot cities, there is increased awareness of the benefits of data visualisations for more collaborative and effective policy making. So much so, cities are starting to think about including this approach in their charters. Overall Civil servants are more aware that using big data with visualisation tools for analysis of problems can have greater depth as many layers of data relating to the physical and social world can be considered together.

Pilot specific results
Issy: The city obtained traffic data that it previously didn’t have. This data was then used to build the Issy Mobility Dashboard, which enabled local policy makers to assess the impact of roadworks on local traffic conditions.
Gent: The city obtained proxy data on student locations that was later used to inform planning decisions e.g. where to build student residences?
Pilsen: The city harnessed big data from traffic detectors and is now using this information to plan and evaluate traffic policy measures e.g. should the city build a new tram line to university campus? Should a street be converted into a pedestrian zone?

To ensure the cities in Polivisu and indeed across all of Europe can continue to benefit from PoliVisu the project has created an online Toolbox containing case studies, visualisation tools and techniques for using data visualisations.
Flanders traffic accidents map made with one of PoliVisu tools - WebGLayer
PoliVisu at Smart City Expo World Congress