Using data visualisation to communicate environmental infrastructure information to inspire community engagement
Effective data visualisation plays a crucial role in bringing together complex data in a way that allows both technical and non-technical users to engage with the information being presented. One of our recent challenges was to do this with regards to potential investment into environmental infrastructure improvements in Manchester.
As part of a DEFRA-funded local action project, we worked alongside the West Country Rivers Trust to develop a software platform to visualise the underlying data encompassing 12 benefit metrics including air quality, flood risk, wildlife habitats and the aesthetic value of the local landscape.
The resulting software (BOUNTY) uses a ‘benefits wheel’ design to demonstrate the social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits provided by different green infrastructure improvements – such as green roofs or street tree planting. It does so by providing a visual estimation of the difference these improvements could make to different local metrics such as:
- footfall in retail areas
- property values
- flood risk
- alleviating climate change impacts
Its ease of use and visual appeal allows users to access evidence and information in a clear way. BOUNTY was showcased at a workshop early in 2017 where different stakeholders in a number of wards within Manchester highlighted the benefits of interactive visualisations to help make real the choices on offer:
“This is a really powerful tool – brings local focus for people in the context of a
wider strategy – allows prioritisation of actions according to £.”
“Whole concept has huge potential for long-term engagement. Used as a strategic planning tool to identify and prioritise actions over a large area in terms of benefit over time so that when opportunities arise (funding available, development) actions/interventions can be taken rapidly to realise opportunities and communities can see progress towards strategic objectives, which they have bought into.”
“Potential to really help planners…decide where best to allocate limited resources.”
BOUNTY provides a case study of how interactive data visualisations, when designed correctly, can prove helpful in enabling residents, local authority officers, developers and policy makers to work together on a level playing field. This, in turn, should facilitate the funding, adoption and long term sustainability of environmental projects for towns and cities across the UK and further afield.
For more information, read the BOUNTY case study at: www.the-iea.org/projects
Or contact Sally Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org