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New Open-source Software for Designing Sustainable Cities

Busy highway from aerial view. Guangzhou. China

New technology could help cities around the world improve people’s lives while saving billions of dollars. A suite of free, open-source software model creates maps to help understand the links between nature and human wellbeing. Governments, non-profits, international lending institutions, and corporations all manage natural resources for multiple uses so they must evaluate tradeoffs between development and conservation.

The software enables decision-makers to assess quantified tradeoffs associated with alternative management choices and to identify areas where investment in natural capital can enhance human development and conservation.  The toolset includes distinct ecosystem service models designed for terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and coastal ecosystems, as well as several helper tools to assist with locating and processing input data and with understanding and visualising outputs.

The software uses spatially explicit biophysical and socio-economic models so users can quantify and map the way various urban designs can impact multiple urban services, such as water management, heat island mitigation and mental health benefits. By showing the costs and benefits to communities by socioeconomic status and vulnerability, the software helps design cities that are better for both people and nature.

The models are based on production functions that define how changes in an ecosystem’s structure and function are likely to affect the flows and values of ecosystem services across a land- or a seascape. The models account for both service supply and the location and activities of people who benefit from services

By 2050, over 70% of the world’s people are projected to live in cities, in the U.S., more than 80% already do. As the global community becomes increasingly urban, cities are looking for ways to design with sustainability in mind. This software could be a part of the solution as it helps design cities that are better for both people and nature.

Developers and city planners are increasingly interested in green infrastructures, such as tree-lined paths and community gardens, that provide a stream of benefits to people. But if planners don’t have detailed information about where a path might encourage the most people to exercise or how a community garden might buffer a neighbourhood from flood risk while helping people recharge mentally, they cannot strategically invest in nature.

The researchers attempted to answer three crucial questions with this software: where in a city is nature providing what benefits to people, how much of each benefit it is providing and who is receiving those benefits. The software is the first of its kind for cities and allows for the combination of environmental data, like temperature patterns, with social demographics and economic data, like income levels.

Users can input their city’s datasets into the software or access a diversity of open global data sources, from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites to local weather stations. The new software joins the existing software suite, a set of tools designed for experts to map and model the benefits that nature provides to people.

To test the efficacy of the software, the team applied the software in multiple cities around the world. In many cases, they worked with local partners to understand priority questions. In Paris, candidates in a municipal election were campaigning on the need for urban greenery, while in Minneapolis, planners were deciding how to repurpose underused golf course land.

Cities, more than any other ecosystems, are designed by people so everyone needs to be more thoughtful about how to design the places where most people spend their time. City governments can bring all of nature’s benefits to residents and visitors. They can address inequities and build more resilient cities, resulting in better long-term outcomes for people and nature.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.