A visual and collaborative future for policy making is coming claims Susie Ruston McAleer, MD of 21c Consultancy, speaking at the All-Energy, Smart Urban Mobility Exhibition and Conference in Glasgow, UK.
Ruston-McAleer has been working on the new smart city initiative, PoliVisu, and shared the premise for its creation with the audience of mobility specialists and practitioners in Scotland.
PoliVisu is centred on the argument that cities are suffering numerous systemic effects due to increasing traffic congestion which accounts for 40% of CO2 emissions and up to 70% of all air pollutants. However, the traditional methods of addressing this challenge – policy making - can be a long and laborious process which struggles to keep up with the realities of everyday life. For instance, despite policies like the Kyoto Protocol which over 10 years ago, set out strategies to cut CO2, cities like Paris and Brussels are suffering the highest levels of air pollution in over a decade! Today’s policy makers have a need to act urgently, working with city managers to craft, trial and assess short term measures, including new transport initiatives, to more rapidly achieve their overarching policy goals.
In addition, they need to take citizens along with them – citizens who think very differently from 10, even 5 years ago. Today making decisions, offering opinions, buying services, and providing immediate feedback can all be done quickly real-time and on our phones – think uber, Air BnB, Twitter, Facebook etc. Yet Decision makers are still rooted in traditional ways of doing things, making policy decisions based upon static models of consultation and closed planning meetings over a timeframe of a year or more. As a result, decision making is often siloed and slow, with thinking and solutions out-of-date by the time policy is ready to be implemented.
Therefore the cities of Ghent, Pilsen and Issy came together to develop PoliVisu, an initiative that goes beyond the state-of-the-art to create new policy experimentation methodologies for use with visualisation and analytical tools that utilise open data to stimulate innovative thinking around complex mobility challenges, and close the gap between immediate action and long-term policy decisions.
“The use of interactive maps, heat maps and charts to drill down into data and understand user behaviour, such as shifts in traffic flows due to changing events, enables a wide range of actors to explore new policy ideas together in a holistic, comprehensive and visual manner” said Ruston McAleer. “These visualisations using real-time data creates one version of the truth for all stakeholders to work with, rather than having to read through numerous dry and often dull documentation.”
The results aim to facilitate collaborative decision-making, unlocking the talent and voice of stakeholders, accelerating the adoption of innovative congestion solutions and saving money from a reduced need to trial costly pilot solutions as potential impact measurement can be explored by changing data on the maps.