Place-making, Policy, and Geographic Information: How People Respond to Urban and Rural Challenges in an Information Age

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Science


Context: How people, communities, and policy-makers might create better futures for places is a complex question that can be informed by better geographic information to create more liveable places.
Rationale: Recent smart-city initiatives (InnovateUK; Horizon2020) emphasize technological solutions in urban environments, potentially neglecting urban-rural differences and interactions, regional flows of people, employment, service accessibility, etc. There is simultaneous recognition that citizen engagement/stakeholders collaboration is vital (EUSmartCities Principles and Enablers for Citizen Engagement, 2015), as reflected in renewed interest in place-making. This approach, originating with Jane Jacobs, mobilizes community collaboration. Sustainable and inclusive planning creates a need to consider how individuals and communities value places and how geographic information can contribute.
Aims: The project aims to develop knowledge and skills to involve citizens in developing more liveable places, realizing the nature and value of place-related information in integrated decision-making.
Research Questions:
What are the significant trends, drivers and challenges in urban-rural relationships, with what implications for place characteristics?
How to effectively engage citizens in addressing local challenges through their sense of place?
How can geographic information better integrate with processes of engagement between stakeholders, sharing information and representing place to inform policy-development and decisions affecting place?
Scope: The project concerns the interrelationships between contrasting Welsh urban areas and their rural hinterlands. Cardiff, Swansea and Aberystwyth have different contexts and structures, with different relationships between urban centres, suburban peripheries, and rural surrounds. The project will examine such relationships, how they affect the places people relate to, and how places affect peoples expectations of local services and policies.
Methods: An innovative methodology will combine ethnographic work to understand community contexts; GIS and space-syntax methods to understand connectivity between urban, suburban, and rural locations; and interviews/focus groups to verify and probe hypotheses derived from initial scoping. Engaging policy makers will provide opportunities to influence policy-making and public engagement and observe the results.
Design: Immersion in literature on place-making, policy-making, and mixed-methods approaches (including Public Participation GIS) will refine the substantive and comparative aspects of the research design (effecting a trade-off between the thematic issues addressed and geographical areas included). Initial work will deploy ethnographic/focus-group methods to understand the urban and rural fabric in which people live. Policy-makers will be recruited to understand their views on the role of place in policy-making. A third strand will assemble digital geographic information to relate initial results to the physical and historical fabric of particular places.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1946326 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 31/07/2022 Matthew Kelly
Description The PhD has moved significantly from the starting brief, with the agreement of the supervisory team, to focus on the emerging topic of spatial finance and its relationship to Green Finance, a key mechanism of Climate Governance. Research is ongoing as of (March 2020) and therefore the key findings outlined here are not definitive.
The thesis is structured around the core research question; how are climate risks and opportunities socialised through Green Finance?

This question sits at the intersection of a number of theoretical approaches in economic geography (e.g. economic sociology, political economy, geography of finance) and the ensuing chapters offer normative and critical responses to the question, utilising established qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
The research centres on three core empirical chapters:

1) A typology of Green Finance - Mapping emerging discourses, institutional assemblages and instruments across capital, insurance and derivative markets.

This chapter seeks to orientate discussions in economic geography on the topic of green finance, by providing a typology of calculative rationalities (Bracking, 2015), composed of discursive framings, institutional assemblages and associated instruments. The key finding from the chapter is the typology of capital market transformations from sovereign public debt finance through a gradation of official development assistance, blended finance and onto private finance. This highlights the variable valuation methods and use cases that configure the materiality of climate risk.

2) Emerging geospatial asymmetries - The marketization of Geospatial 2.0 and the construction of climate risk markets.

This chapter outlines how geospatial data and information is delivered and consumed in the 'greening' of financial markets. It adopts an 'infrastructural' approach to highlight how financial markets are marketizing spatial data infrastructures and how data licensing with associated limits on repeat use of data and paywalls configure information asymmetries and the marketization of climate risks. Key findings from the chapter include the increasing commercialisation of geospatial data, alternative use cases for data in backward looking ESG accreditation and forward looking Asset+ approaches, limitations on technology by asset register licensing and the capacity of financial actors to force data disclosures.

3) Asset+ models for administrative data - unlocking horizontal value through landscape portfolio theory.

This chapter forwards an asset+ model for assessing transitional and physical risks and opportunities to Welsh farm holdings. Using the Land Parcel Identification System, the model categorises holdings with prescribed financial profiles and uses this as a basis to look at the financial performance and resiliency of landscape portfolios, associated with notions of carrying capacity and planetary boundaries.
Exploitation Route The research could provide a framework for future research into the impacts and performance of Green Finance, inform geospatial information policy and provide a test bed model for asset level analytics for Welsh Agri-food and rural development policy design.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy