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IDEASS: Integrative Data-Enabled Approaches to Sustainability across Scales
Research project funded by the NSERC Strategic Project Grants Program
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About

IDEASS is a 3-year project that aims to innovate new technologies to inform integrative decision-making crucial to the planning and design of sustainable communities. The problem space of IDEASS: the structure, flow and representation of data within the decision contexts and scales of built environment planning, design, construction and operation. The project investigates strategic needs and opportunities to advance data, collaboration, design and engagement technologies within this space.
The project addresses two research topics within the Information and Communications Technologies target area:

  1. from data to knowledge to action
  2. human interaction with digital information

Case studies for the project involve the new Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability Building (CIRS) at UBC, as well as municipal partners, such as the City of Vancouver (Marpole and Grandview Woodland Community Plans) and City of Richmond (energy and emissions policy simulations for the Richmond City Centre plan).

Objective 1: EXAMINE gathers, maps and critiques decision types, requirements, data types and scenarios across design scales, stakeholders and decision contexts of a case study. We have focused on the ‘big picture’ with all the stakeholders involved. This involved mapping the decision-making process and stakeholder interaction with various information technologies, and identifying indicators for assessing process efficiency and technology impact.

We have examined new development projects currently in the planning stages from end-to-end (design through occupancy). This phase of the research allowed us to identify opportunities for innovation focused on significantly impacting the status quo.

Objective 2: ENVISION investigates new prototype processes, methods and technologies based on project goals. We will develop a process based on the case study analysis that provides better alignment of decision-making tasks with data requirements and technology support. Prototype development will focus on a few applications that have the biggest opportunity for impact. This will include:

  1. Collaboration technology to support diverse stakeholder engagement
  2. Data management to address data cleaning and propagation
  3. Building information modeling to support better cost-benefit analysis

We are exploring novel methods will be needed to support data integration across different project scales (building to neighborhood) with different data formats and levels of detail (BIM/IFC/cityGML). We are also designing prototypes to support collaboration across multiple devices (wall displays, table displays, handhelds), and types of information (geo-spatial, BIM, cost tables).

Objective 3: EVALUATE assesses the prototypes developed under objective 2 above with the various stakeholders identified and examined under objective 1. We are developing metrics to evaluate the impacts of new technology in a number of ways. Evaluation will test the effectiveness of the data, modeling and visualization tools, and strategies in meeting the needs of the various users. We are evaluating the decision outcomes themselves to learn more about the capacity of the proposed tools to produce better decisions for regenerative design. At this stage we are also examining the balance between the potential of ICTs to democratize decision making by diverse groups with differential access to power, and their potential to transform the attitudes and behaviours of those groups.

This work has been iterative, cycling through different design scenarios either simultaneously or sequentially to maximize opportunities for evaluation.

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