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Photo by Crorina Ardeleanu via Unsplash

RESPiRES: Using social-ecological systems thinking to promote sustainable smart cities

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.

Bluespaces in particular (such as ponds, lakes, rivers and streams) play a key role in the urban ecosystem and for human health in cities by cleaning water, providing a sense of place and supporting a diverse set of flora and fauna. Understanding the factors that favour highly valued and healthy aquatic ecosystems will facilitate the design of governance systems that improve the provision of highly beneficial services for people and wildlife alike. 

Photo by Yumming Wang via Unsplash

Project objectives

Identify smart tools and techniques

We will first seek to identify future-proof and smart tools and techniques that are available, accessible and appropriate, and could be adopted by community-based monitoring (CBM) initiatives across Smart Cities to monitor blue-spaces such as wetlands, ponds, lakes and rivers. 

Determine the value of bluespaces

We will also seek to determine place-based values and perceptions of urban blue-spaces (positive and/or negative) held by local communities across demographic gradients  such as age, gender, wealth, health, education. 

Construct resilience indicators

We will work to co-construct and validate a suite of social-ecological resilience indicators that represent intrinsic as well as instrumental values held by local people, and can be used by local governance to deliver highly valued and resilient blue-spaces in Smart Cities

Identify factors that contribute to functional blue-spaces

Finally, we will aim to identify local and regional factors that contribute to highly functional and resilient blue-spaces and associated ecosystems that provide important ecosystem services to local communities.

Project goals

In achieving these objectives, RESPiRES will explore the role of environmental justice and equity regarding access to bluespace provision that are both healthy and valued. The co-construction process and development of a CBM programme will engage local communities in Mexico City and Bristol and encourage sustainable behaviour change through citizen participation and the co-development of knowledge.

Critically, through investigation of current and emerging technologies as well as the barriers and opportunities for their use in CBM, RESPiRES will provide solid foundations for the smarter use of data and information in future Smart Cities

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