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Coastal Urban developmenT through the LEnses of Resiliency

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CUTLER (Coastal Urban developmenT through the LEnses of Resiliency)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-02-28

Urban development in waterfront cities incorporates a wide range of activities aiming to either exploit the beauty and opportunities offered by the water element to foster economic growth (touristic activities, development of recreational and sports facilities in the coast, infrastructure for import/export of goods in ports, etc.) or alleviate the environmental stresses caused by the water to protect the city from water-related threats such as floods or erosion (infrastructure against floods, precaution measures against climate change, effective strategies for risk management and prevention, etc.) It is clear that urban development activities in such areas heavily affect all three pillars of the urban ecosystem, i.e. the society, the environment and the economy. To effectively balance between ensuring the well-being of citizens, strengthening the local economy, and protecting the environment, evidence-based policy planning and implementation is required.
When addressing such problems, policy makers and society at large face a number of fundamental challenges. The different components of the urban system are strongly interwoven, giving rise to complex dynamics and making it difficult to anticipate the impact and unintended consequences of public action. Urban development policies are subject to highly distributed, multi-level decision processes and impact a wide variety of stakeholders, often with conflicting or contradictory objectives. The increasing growth and availability of municipal datasets represents a significant opportunity for municipalities and their citizens to develop tools for coping with these problems and enabling interactive urban planning and governance. However, harnessing the potential for economic, social and environmental betterment through analysis of this data requires new configurations of actors and institutes in order to address the challenges of data access and analysis capacity.
CUTLER's central goal is to establish a sustainable solution for incorporating big data and data science in the policy-making process, aiming to shift the existing paradigm of policy making, which is largely based on intuition, towards an evidence-driven approach enabled by big data. To this end, an innovative platform is being developed that will help policy makers to easily design, implement and monitor urban development policies for coastal cities, based on the wealth of economic, environmental and social data generated by and in the cities on a daily basis. Using this platform, we will effectively address the challenges mentioned above and will succeed in designing policies that effectively balance between citizen well-being, local economy development, and environment protection. In reaching its main goal, CULTER has set out the following objectives:
• Deal with ethical and legal issues in collecting and processing economic, environmental and social data coming from the governmental sector
• Setup a cloud-based infrastructure for large scale data storage and processing
• Crawl, interlink and integrate heterogeneous data sources to support data-intensive operations
• Sense the economic activity in the city using big-data analytics
• Sense the environmental impact of policy-making in the city using big-data analytics
• Sense the societal consequences of policy-making in the city using big-data analytics
• Use business process models (BPM) for bringing foresight intelligence in policy modelling
• Integrate the sensing and data analytics outputs and the BPM under a multi-faceted dashboard for policy design, implementation and evaluation
• Design, implement and evaluate urban development policies in four waterfront cities (Thessaloniki, Antalya, Antwerp, Cork) using the CUTLER dashboard.
During the first reporting period, the core objective of the project was to develop the first version of the big-data collection and analysis modules that will be integrated by the CUTLER platform to support policy-makers in their decision making with regards to urban development policies in waterfront cities. To this end, the legal requirements relevant to the use of big data for the economy, the society and the environment have been identified by carefully reviewing EU and national legislation (WP1). Moreover, the requirements of end-users, i.e. policy makers in public administration, were also specified through surveys and creation of user stories (WP2, WP7). The data sources (economic, environmental, social) to be used in each city pilot have been identified, while the first version of the mechanism for collecting, harmonizing and integrating these heterogeneous datasets has been developed (WP3). Based on the collected data, the first version of the data analytics modules and the data visualization widgets has been delivered, allowing us to estimate and visualize the impact of policy making in the three pillars of the city eco-system, i.e. the economy, the environment and the society (WP4,5,6). In addition, four applied business process models (BPMs) have been developed, one for each pilot city (Thessaloniki, Antalya, Antwerp and Cork), which give a concise and complete picture of all the tasks that these municipalities have to perform during the policy-making lifecycle (WP7). The conceptual architecture and integration protocol of the CUTLER platform has been identified and significant progress has been achieved for the delivery of the first platform prototype (WP8). The first version of the CUTLER cloud infrastructure has been designed and delivered as well (WP2). Finally, the plans for the preparation and execution of the four city pilots have been delivered while several co-creation sessions were organized by the pilot cities for policy design, engaging citizens and other local stakeholders (WP9).
CUTLER advances the state-of-the-art by offering an innovative Software-as-a-Service solution that combines heterogeneous data sources on a cloud-based big-data analytics platform, where data visualization plays an important role in allowing policy makers to easily design, implement and evaluate policy measures. Moreover, it effectively implements data privacy and protection measures, based on an in-depth analysis of the relevant EU and local legal framework. Unlike other solutions that usually rely on economic or environmental data analysis, CUTLER also incorporates predictive analytics as well as trend detection and text mining on social platforms to estimate the social consequences of policy implementation.
By fusing data that measure economic activity, environmental impact and societal consequences of policies into a single platform and under a single business process model, CUTLER improves the effectiveness of decision making in public administrations, allows for better policy enforcement and compliance, promotes sensible and ethical governance, and increases transparency of the policy-making process. Moreover, CUTLER’s social sensing and analytics infrastructure (exploiting Twitter feeds, comments in news articles, and information about local events) ensures that the opinions, ideas, concerns and suggestions of the local society are taken into consideration when designing or evaluating policy measures, thus strengthening the democratic dimension of policy making. Ultimately, the aforementioned features strengthen the overall trust of citizens in local governments.
CUTLER concept