BOUNTY – visualizing environmental infrastructure data

Visualization environmental data smart cities Bounty
Image: Brian Hoskin for Westcountry Rivers Trust / Defra

Visualizing scientific research and evidence to increase engagement in neighbourhood improvement projects

BOUNTY – Benefits Of Urban Nature To You

The challenge:  Inspiring visualization  was needed by this Defra Local Action Project to communicate information and data on the benefits provided by environmental infrastructure and natural capital (identifiable natural features in the urban landscape) and highlight where there is scope for improvements.

Accessible, inclusive visualizations were crucial to allow for highly diverse levels of technical skills and to enable residents, local authority officers, developers and policy makers to work together on a level playing field. This, in turn, would facilitate the funding, adoption and sustainability of projects and interventions to benefit all, in a cost-effective and efficient way. This was a key output requirement of the project which was undertaken by the Westcountry Rivers Trust, Defra Network Organisations and Dr Alexandra Collins (a NERC / Defra Research Fellow) in partnership with a variety of local practitioners and stakeholders in four demonstration areas, including the Greater Manchester Area.

Purpose: To engage and enthuse communities and stakeholders at a very local level in enhancing the value of the natural capital of their neighbourhoods to improve economic prosperity, the environment and people’s lives.

IEA role: To communicate data from research into the benefits of natural capital and environmental infrastructure in a meaningful way to audiences with widely varying levels of scientific and technical skills and understanding.

The Local Action Project used a graphic illustration based on a wheel, developed by Westcountry Rivers Trust and Defra, to illustrate 12 of the benefit metrics including air quality, flood risk, habitats for wildlife and the aesthetic value of the local landscape.

IEA Software Developer Barbara Percy created an online tool called BOUNTY (Benefits Of Urban Nature To You) that allows users to see how a potential project or development could improve these benefits at a very local level. The interactive dashboard visualizes scientific evidence of research into multiple environmental aspects of the urban landscape in an interactive web-based map tool for a trial sample of six wards in Manchester.

Its ease of use and visual appeal allows users to access evidence and information in a clear way to facilitate engagement and local decision-making.

The wheel characterises the social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits provided by natural capital and gives a visual estimation of the difference improvements to the environmental assets could make, including for instance, footfall in retail areas, increased property values, reduction in flood risk and alleviating local climate change impacts.

Potential intervention projects include regenerating urban areas, creating rain gardens, planting street trees, creating green roofs and restoring waterways.

This visualization in turn supports the formation of effective stakeholder-led partnerships by increasing engagement, mobilising local delivery organisations and supporting applications for funding.

The ongoing project approach (including BOUNTY) has been adopted by the Catchment Based Approach National Support Group – in particular the CaBA Urban Working Group.

The BOUNTY tool developed by the IEA was extremely well received at the Manchester Local Action Plan workshop

“Working with the IEA has been great.  It has enabled us to take a great deal of information and data and turn it into a user friendly and engaging format that is already stimulating lots of interest and active discussion in Manchester.” – Dr Alexandra Collins

Other comments included:

“This is a really powerful tool – brings local focus for people in the context of a
wider strategy – allows prioritisation of actions according to £.”

“Simple to navigate & easy to view.”

“Great for engaging and beginning discussion.”

“Whole concept has huge potential for long-term engagement. Used as a strategic planning tool to identify and prioritise actions over a large area in terms of benefit over time so that when opportunities arise (funding available, development) actions/interventions can be taken rapidly to realise opportunities and communities can see progress towards strategic objectives, which they have bought into.”

“Potential to really help planners etc. decide where best to allocate limited resources.”

 

Timeline: August 2016 – February 2017

Partners: Defra, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Imperial College London

Links: https://issuu.com/westcountryriverstrust/docs/manchester_lap_evidence_review_fina

http://urbanwater-eco.services/

How the IEA’s expertise answers your data challenges – read our blog  http://www.the-iea.org/quod-erat-demonstrandum/

Visualization of environmental infrastructure data for BOUNTY
Users can move their cursor over the BOUNTY Benefits Wheel to see how their neighbourhood scores for each benefit, or compare how areas compare by moving over the map.
Visualization of environmental infrastructure data for BOUNTY
The IEA designed easily identifiable icons. Potential innovations change the shade of each benefit icon, which goes darker the more the intervention enhances it.
Workshop for visualization of environmental infrastructure data
BOUNTY was received with enthusiasm when it was demonstrated to the Manchester Local Action Plan, Defra and Westcountry Rivers Trust by the IEA.

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