Developing a Platform to better know and assess your NBS projects... challenge succeeded!
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The main objective of Nature4Cities project is to increase the awareness about the Nature Based Solution (NBS) and to promote new collaborative models for NBS uptake. Following this purpose, the Nature4Cities (N4C) Platform has been developed including a set of tools with the aim of spread information about the creation, assessment and implementation of NBS projects. The main objective of the N4C Platform is to help in the decision-making process when an intervention related to the application of Nature Based Solutions is planned at building, district or city scale.
Under this context, the N4C Platform offers an integration framework where several elements (existing and new tools/services developed within Nature4Cities project) are deployed and interconnected, all supported by additional horizontal functionalities in order to provide multiple functionalities.
The N4C Platform is divided into 3 groups of tools covering functionalities for the creation, assessment and implementation of NBS projects.
In the first group the tools are focused on the creation of an NBS project offering information to the users about NBS taxonomy, pioneer NBS projects already executed and other contextual information for creating an NBS project.
The NBS Explorer offers information about 66 NBS identified in the project, properly categorized. For each NBS the tool offers a short description of the solution, information about the benefits and a factsheet with very complete information about the NBS. This tool, developed during the project, provides information in 6 different languages (en/fr/hu/it/es/tr).
The Geocluster4NBS, a NBS project observatory and pre-selection tool, shows the user real reference projects, geo-located in a map, related with the application of one or several NBS focused on fulfilling a set of Urban Sub Challenges (USC) he/she is interested in. This tool also offers an NBS pre-selection and replication analysis functionalities to evaluate the possible successful application of NBS in a different location to solve a specific USCs.
The Diagnostic of your city’s trends module provides an initial diagnosis of the cities by identifying the weaknesses and strengths of the city with the support of environmental and urban metrics to help in the design of NBS projects. This module integrates two tools (Colouree Analytics and GreenCity Lab) that are complementary.
The second group is dedicated to the assessment of NBS projects, by the generation of an assessment framework (the NBS assessment module) able to create and assess different NBS scenarios from an urban, socio-economic and environmental point of view. This module has been developed from scratch and its potentiality is based on the integration of new assessment tools and existing tools improved and validated within the project.
The assessment process establishes a workflow covered in 10 steps where the user is guided to create a project, enrich it with contextual information of the urban area to be analysed and apply specific NBS able to confront the project objectives in the form of Urban Sub Challenges. To assess the impact, the tools integrated in the assessment framework calculate a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) covering urban, socio-economic and environmental aspects. In the final step, the results of assessing the different NBS scenarios can be exported in excel format to facilitate their study and the support during the decision-making process.
The tools that are integrated in the NBS assessment module are the following:
· Urban assessment tools: Expert Model-Based Box tool, calculator for different KPIs as Annual carbon sequestration, soil management, etc.; Couloree tool, providing calculation for KPIs such us Urban Green Space Proportion, Connectivity of Green Space, Areal Sprawl and Accessibility of Green Space; and GreenPass tool which calculates TCS-Thermal comfort score, TLO-Thermal load score, TSC-Thermal storage score and Thermal performance KPIs, among others.
· Socio-economic assessment tool: NBenefit$ tool for the calculation of a wide variety of KPIs - implementation and operational costs and social benefits taking into account different aspects.
· Environmental assessment tool: Common environmental assessment tool is a combination of two different tools such as Material Flow Analysis Tool and Simplified Life Cycle Assessment Tool. The main objective of this common tool is to evaluate the environmental performance of the Nature Based Solution with the support of life-cycle based material flow analysis and life cycle analysis respectively.
The results can be seen in two different ways. In the visualization step (step 9), results are shown grouped by type of assessment and in the form of charts, tables and even in maps, when results are geo-located. In the exportation step (step 10), results can be downloaded by the user in an excel file. This way allows the user to check the results and the parameters used that have led to these results. The advantage of this method is that the user is able to check the results outside the N4C Platform, compare with the results of other scenarios and also use the data (parameter and results) in other tools.
In addition to the NBS assessment module, an auto-diagnosis tool (Diagnosis of your assessment needs) is also offered in this second group to help the user in finding the appropriate methodologies and tools to anticipate a proper follow-up of the project indicators. This tool, developed entirely within the project, allows the user to find the best methods and tools to evaluate and solve city's urban challenges throughout a questionnaire. Apart from the list of the best methods and tools, it shows a description of the methods recommended and links to factsheets containing detailed information about them.
The third group of modules is focused on the implementation of an NBS project, with special attention to citizen participation.
The IM Pre-selection tool, developed entirely within the Nature4Cities project, helps the user to find the most suitable governance, financing modules and business cases for his/her NBS project.
The NBS handbook is a step-by-step explanatory guide on how to develop an NBS project.
The NBS projects participation tool, based on the CitizenSay tool, allows the municipalities to involve citizens in NBS projects. The purpose of CitizenSay in the N4C Platform is to support the different N4C user groups in planning, agreeing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating activities that are related to Nature4Cities projects and that require involvement of multiple stakeholders.
In total, 14 tools have been integrated and interconnected in the different groups of the N4C Platform using different integration actions: some of them developed from scratch and others integrated using APIs, iFrames or redirection to another URL. Complementary, new functionalities have been developed in the N4C Platform mainly to carry out the workflow of the NBS assessment module: project and scenarios creation, contextual information management, parametrization of the assessment tools, common visualization of the results and data exportation.
As a result, a challenging web-based Platform has been generated offering a common framework for the design, evaluation and implementation of NBS projects.