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Coastal Urban developmenT through the LEnses of Resiliency

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CUTLER (Coastal Urban developmenT through the LEnses of Resiliency)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2020-12-31

Urban development in waterfront cities includes a wide range of activities aiming to either exploit the beauty and opportunities offered by water to foster economic growth (tourism, recreational & sport facilities in the coast, infrastructure for transport of goods etc.) or alleviate the environmental stresses caused by water and protect cities from threats such as floods or erosion (measures for flood reduction, against climate change, etc.). It is clear that urban development activities in such areas 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 economy, and protecting the environment, evidence-based policy planning and implementation is required.
When addressing such problems, policy makers face a number of fundamental challenges. The different components of the urban system are strongly interwoven, creating complex dynamics and making it difficult to anticipate the impact and consequences of public action. Urban development policies are subject to distributed, multi-level decision processes and impact a wide variety of stakeholders. The increasing availability of datasets represents a significant opportunity for municipalities 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 in order to address the challenges of data access and data analysis.
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 has been developed that helps policy makers to easily design, monitor and evaluate urban development policies for waterfront cities, based on the wealth of economic, environmental and social data generated in the cities on a daily basis. The CUTLER platform provides a standardized way to model the decision making processes of public administrations and offers a variety of big-data analysis and visualization tools that allow policy makers to design and implement urban development policies by simultaneously considering citizen well-being, economic growth, and environment protection. To reach this goal, CUTLER has pursued 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 flexible cloud-based infrastructure for large scale data storage and processing that can be adapted to the needs of different cities.
• Crawl, interlink and integrate heterogeneous data sources to support data-intensive operations.
• Sense the economic and environmental impact and the social consequences of urban policy-making by applying big data analytics on collected data and computing appropriate indicators.
• Use business process models (BPM) to bring foresight intelligence in policy modeling.
• Integrate the sensing and data analytics outputs and the BPM under a single multi-faceted dashboard for policy design, monitoring and evaluation.
• Design, implement and evaluate different urban development policies in waterfront cities using the CUTLER dashboard.
The following results have been delivered in the context of CUTLER:
• A legal taxonomy and relevant framework summarizing the legal requirements for data collection and processing in public administrations, ensuring adherence to GDPR and other EU legislation.
• A data collection, integration and protection framework that can effectively deal with heterogeneous data sources (sensor measurements, official statistics, social media, GIS data etc.)
• A generic econometric model for assessing policy impact on regional level based on socioeconomic indicators. Also, machine-learning forecasting models to predict policy-specific economic variables.
• A methodology for modeling the environmental impact of policies, by computing appropriate KPIs with regard to climate change, water management & quality, air quality, and resource efficiency.
• New techniques for measuring social sentiment and extracting citizen opinions from social media (Twitter, TripAdvisor, etc.) Coupled with other social data (e.g. census, demographics), they can efficiently capture the social consequences of policy making.
• A set of Kibana dashboards to visualize heterogeneous economic, environmental and social data and relevant indicators.
• Design of concrete BPMs for the city pilots that contain the functionalities of the CUTLER platform as well as Foresight Intelligence methodologies and public participation components.
• The CUTLER decision-support platform that integrates the data collection, analysis and visualization components and the BPMs under a single user-friendly interface that allows i) data experts to design policy-specific multifaceted dashboards and ii) policy makers to make informed decisions in every step of the policy cycle, from design to evaluation, using the dashboards.
• A flexible secure cloud-based architecture that follows an agnostic approach to hide the details of the underlying IT infrastructure and allows the CUTLER platform to be adapted to the city’s needs and be deployed in any cloud using automated DevOps procedures.
• Testing of the platform in five city pilots (Thessaloniki, Antalya, Antwerp, Cork, Vicenza), examining a variety of policy measures: garden streets, flood reduction measures, design of sea transport system, access to waterfront touristic sites, management of water flow, etc.
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. The platform offers a standardized way to i) design high-quality decision-support interfaces for policy making, and ii) present the decision-making process and visualise the necessary evidence. Moreover, it effectively implements data privacy and protection measures, based on an in-depth analysis of relevant legal frameworks. Unlike other solutions that usually rely on economic or environmental data, CUTLER also incorporates predictive analytics, trend detection and text mining on social platforms to estimate the social consequences of policy implementation.
By fusing data that measure economic activity, environmental policy impact and social consequences into a single platform and under a single BPM, 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. Moreover, CUTLER’s social analytics modules (exploiting Twitter feeds, TripAdvisor reviews, comments in news articles etc.) ensure that the opinions, concerns and suggestions of citizens are taken into consideration when designing or evaluating policy measures, thus strengthening the democratic dimension of policy making. Ultimately, CUTLER strengthens the overall trust of citizens in local governments.
Dashboard presenting information with regard to air quality
The CUTLER platform frontend for data-driven policy-making: examining different policies
The CUTLER platform frontend for data-driven policy-making: Sea Transport System policy
Analysis of Twitter feeds to extract insights on opinion trends and citizen sentiment
Tool for selecting the location of a garden street based on socioeconomic & environmental GIS data
Forecasting tool estimating economic variables for a Sea Transport System in Thessaloniki
The CUTLER platform architecture
BPM modeling the decision-making process for the design of garden streets in Antwerp
Dashboard visualizing the socio-economic impact of a flood reduction measure in Vicenza
CUTLER concept: a tool to support evidence-based policy-making based on big data