Resilient People need Resilient Ecosystems in Smart Cities (RESPiRES)

Lead Research Organisation: Bath Spa University
Department Name: School of Sciences

Abstract

Smart and sustainable cities require functional and resilient ecosystems to support the health and well-being of their human population. However, this can only be achieved by understanding how people interact with and perceive these ecosystems. blue-spaces, such as wetlands, ponds, lakes and rivers, play a key role in the urban ecosystem and for human health in cities. Understanding the factors that favour healthy ecosystems will facilitate the design of governance systems that improve the provision of highly beneficial services for people. Therefore, we propose to directly address the call topic 'resilience and environmental sustainability' through multi-stakeholder engagement and social-ecological systems investigation in different economic contexts (emerging vs. established economy). By eliciting place-based values and applying a standardised analytical framework in both Mexico City and Bristol, we will co-construct a suite of indicators for each city that facilitate purposeful monitoring of social-ecological resilience by local communities, and propose the best technologies available to the Smart City in order to do this. Through RESPiRES we will entrain a network of stakeholders and foster relationships for a sustained impact beyond project completion.

The proposed research also supports the topics 'politics of the smart city and urban economies' and 'digital social innovation' by assessing present-day public access to urban blue-spaces by different sections of the urban populace (considering wealth, education, health, age and gender and their intersectionality) as well as access to technology. This applied interdisciplinary research will result in evidence-based recommendations for environmental monitoring in Smart Cities and influence both short- and long-term policies for urban resilience.

Planned Impact

RESPiRES is aiming to create positive impacts at local, national and international scales through knowledge exchange with relevant stakeholders. The three key developmental outputs from the project are (1) A better understanding of the drivers of ecosystem resilience in urban blue-spaces (2) A better understanding of how people perceive, value and interact with urban blue-spaces and their associated habitats and (3) A better knowledge of the capacity and willingness of local communities to engage with technologies of the Smart City in order to monitor social-ecological resilience. Potential wider outcomes from the project are (1) Increased awareness and understanding of social-ecological linkages for sustainable and Smart Cities, better connecting people with nature and encouraging participatory governance, and allowing the development of Smart City policies that are more holistic and appropriate for society and the environment (2) Increased awareness of the potential of citizen participation for blue-space monitoring in Smart Cities giving local organisations and government guidance to provide more targeted support to community based monitoring initiatives (3) Evidence-based recommendations for building resilience in Smart Cities resulting in ecosystems and communities that are better able to cope, adapt to, and recover from disturbance and change.

Outputs from RESPiRES will be translated into outcomes through engagement with stakeholders (members of the public, community groups, non-governmental organisations and local governments) both throughout the research and once the research is complete. Stakeholders will be engaged at the beginning of the research (particularly in WP1b) as a part of the co-construction process, which will facilitate the co-production of knowledge. This will identify how stakeholders value blue-spaces (positively and negatively) and potential indicators that could be monitored to assess social-ecological resilience. In addition, potential end-users of the information will form the RESPiRES Steering Group who will be consulted biannually and contribute additional expertise and professional networks to the project. At the end of the research, recommended measures to boost and monitor social-ecological resilience will be summarised in policy briefs designed for regional and national policy planners to be handed out during WP3 dissemination activities and circulated through social media and professional networks. Non-technical summaries published as part of each work package summary report will be openly and freely available, in addition to detailed information through a project website to be hosted by BSU. The website will take the form of an e-zine to offer bulletins to interested parties regarding project updates, workshop outcomes and feedback to engaged citizens. For end-users without access or use of digital outputs, arts-led communication will be developed. Findings of the markets analyses carried out during WP2a will benefit commercial enterprises by providing in depth data on the current and future end-user requirements for smart technologies. Further beneficiaries of RESPiRES outputs will be regional Health and Wellbeing Boards (e.g. Bristol Health and Wellbeing board) who will receive specific information regarding public perceptions of blue-spaces, but also access issues or other factors that could have a negative effect on human wellbeing.

Finally, international dissemination through conference presentations and peer-reviewed open access publications will contribute to advance research on resilience in the context of Smart Cities and socio-ecological systems and will have indirect influence upon Smart City policy, and more generally on urban environmental management within regions outside of Mexico and the UK and the immediate cities of Bristol and Mexico City.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) 
Organisation Knowle West Media Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Dr. Sarah Hobbs engaged with KWMC for RESPiRES public engagement activities (participatory video workshops) which began January 2020
Collaborator Contribution KWMC bring local knowledge and outreach to the project as well as technical advice for developing the participatory videos
Impact Participatory video workshops (ongoing)
Start Year 2020
 
Description British Ecological Society Annual Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Approximately 100 delegates (academics, researchers and professional practitioners) attended a talk entitled 'Social and ecological systems thinking for blue-spaces in Smart Cities: RESPiRES'. This talk generated discussion and possible new collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Participatory mapping / relational values workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Relational Values/Bluespaces participatory mapping exercise
Objective: to explore how participants use and value their local blue spaces. This activity gathers information on: which bluespaces people visit/use, how they are valued (positively or negatively) by participants in relation to their home (also tells us which blue spaces are 'ignored' near them); whether their perceptions of those spaces are largely positive or
negative or a balance of the two; what people do in their local blue spaces; ways in which they value bluespaces according to relational values framework.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Participatory video workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of workshops intended to support general members of the public to make, take and edit videos of their experiences and values of blue-spaces in Bristol.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Pond conservation in the anthropocene 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Recently, the idea of smart cities has become a highly fashionable and well-used term. However, as it has been heavily promoted by business and entrepreneurs such that there is a danger that the smart city movement has become detached from what it means to develop sustainably. RESPiRES (Resilient People, Resilient Ecosystems in Smart Cities), is a new project led by Bath Spa University in collaboration with other UK and Mexican institutions that seeks to understand the factors that contribute to social-ecological
resilience in smart cities. With a focus on blue spaces, RESPiRES is a parallel study which will be carried out in contrasting socioeconomic circumstances in Mexico City and the Bristol. Funded by the ESRC Newton Fund, over the next 2 years we will carry out a series of investigations of functional integrity using multiple taxa (phytoplankton, invertebrates and plants) alongside social valuations of blue spaces, before establishing a suite of indicators that reflect social and ecological thinking; indicators which could be
adopted by local governance or community based monitoring initiatives. This presentation will introduce the project and outline how this is hoped to be achieved.

Presented to approximately 25 delegates, both academic and professional practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Poster presentation at BES Multiple Values of Nature Conference 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Academic poster presenting findings of a systematic review conducted to inform RESPiRES research activities. Displayed over the two days of the conference and presented during a specific poster session, which gave the opportunity for discussion of the project with other researchers and professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020