Environmental intelligence for more sustainable infrastructure investment

Mark Mulligan, Caitlin Douglas, Arnout Van Soesbergen, Maoijing Shi, Sophia Burke, Hedwig Van Delden, Raffaele Giordano, Elena Lopez-Gunn, Albert Scrieciu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Intelligence is the ability to learn, understand and thus manage new or trying situations through reasoning (inferences based on facts or premises). Environmental Intelligence brings together multiple data streams (facts) from ground-based, satellite and citizen sources with cutting-edge hardware, software and analytical technology employing human reasoning and machine learning to better understand and manage the environment. The EC H2020 ReSET project (Restarting Economy in Support of Environment through Technology) funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 FET Proactive Programme under grant agreement No 101017857, brings together environmental scientists, social scientists, informatics specialists and stakeholders from five European countries to develop state of the art investment policy support systems. These combine the best available earth observation, crowdsourced and field-monitored data with sophisticated spatial policy support systems for biophysical and social processes. Harnessing combined machine and human intelligence, we seek to to understand best-bet options for 'build back better' investments that maximise environmental, economic and employment benefits. We are working at a series of demonstration sites in Europe where 'build back better' investments are active: Thames Gateway, OxCam Arc and Strand Aldwych in UK; Carasuhat Wetlands in Romania; Castilla Leon and Rivas VaciaMadrid in Spain and Bologna in Italy. Proposed investments include urban greening and traffic management to reduce air pollution and thermal extremes (Strand Aldwych, Bologna, Rivas Vaciamadrid); Natural Flood Management (Thames Gateway, OxCam Arc, Castilla-Leon), land use zoning for low impact tourism (Carasuhat) and green-grey approaches to flood and drought management (Castilla Leon). We bring together new hardware technologies enabling low-cost, distributed, IoT environmental monitoring using the FreeStation.org platform with further developments of our widely used policy support systems CotingNature and Eco:Actuary and enhanced activity and agent-based modelling in the Metronamica modelling framework. This is to better understand current environmental conditions in the areas proposed for investment and to simulate the impact of investment alternatives (business as usual grey, blended grey-green and fully green) on environment, economy and employment in the ReSET investment policy support system. Through this work, we tackle some key challenges of operationalizing environmental intelligence discussed here: • technology as an enabler of research and innovation rather than the key focus of research • live integration of complex data streams • ensuring usability and ease of use through co-design • scalability and relevance to a range of investment types and settings • reducing costs, enabling local maintenance and ensuring accessibility and legacy

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoodIT 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Information Technology for Social Good
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450384780
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2021
Event1st Conference on Information Technology for Social Good, GoodIT 2021 - Rome, Italy
Duration: 9 Sept 202111 Sept 2021

Publication series

NameGoodIT 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Information Technology for Social Good


Conference1st Conference on Information Technology for Social Good, GoodIT 2021


  • Green infrastructure
  • Investment
  • Nature based solutions
  • Policy support


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