The Vision of PoliVisu is to enhance public involvement and enable evidence-based decision making in urban policy design, though equipping decision-makers with the skills and tools for open geodata processing, advanced visualisation and collaborative policy experimentation. As a result, the city makes better sustainable policy decisions and operations are managed more effectively.

PoliVisu will change the way urban policy-making is created by supporting cities (with limited resources) to make effective, informed, data-driven decisions. A suite of data processing and visualisation tools coupled with a structured and tailorable methodology for introducing open (geo) data into the policy-making lifecycle helps cities overcome barriers to big data use and enables them to leverage the benefits of data analytics to build stakeholder engagement. This data-driven approach gives everyone in the policy value-chain the opportunity to gain a wider understanding of issues and options which drives fact-based policy discourse. Though the dialogue may not lead to policy consensus, satisfaction with the process is improved, as everyone involved feels heard and understands why urban transformation decisions have been made. 

Big data and big data analysis techniques offer a new potential to derive insights from large datasets, some of which may be quick-changing, volatile or uncertain (Volume, Volatility, Velocity and Veracity). Big data - as well as data analysis, modelling and visualisation based on it- allow deeper insights for policy-makers and stakeholders. These data analytics also provide an insight into evolution in the past, insight at the today situation and in potential policy scenarios in terms of the impact on and behaviour of (anonymous) individuals at specific times. The use of effective and compelling visualisations will allow the value of big data to be available not just to technical analysts but also to policy-makers themselves and to other stakeholders, and will make it easier to have an informed dialogue among all stakeholders both about the policy scenarios under consideration and, where relevant, the co-creation of other solutions. 

Cities across Europe hear about PoliVisu success stories from the initiative founders (both cities and data/ technology experts) via targeted social media campaigns and conference demonstrations. The cities access the policy experimentation tools, best practices, policy knowledge base and user data through the PoliVisu Toolbox available online via PoliVisu’s own portal or through the Open Government Partnership (OGP) toolbox. The Toolbox contains a tried and tested methodology that when used with PoliVisu’s big data processing and data visualisation tools enriches the traditional policy-making process with opportunities for policy experimentation. 

The PoliVisu tools enable cities to test a variety of policy strategies and actions with stakeholders using local data sets (for example road sensor data on traffic flows, historic accident data, traffic light data, pedestrian data etc.) to visually simulate potential impacts. This opportunity to experiment with policy options ensures cities can explore complex systemic urban problems, which require innovative thinking to develop transformative and sustainable solutions, without the need to deploy multiple, costly test pilots. 

Thanks to PoliVisu, city operation managers and policy-makers work together more effectively to solve their transport and land-use related dilemmas. For example, the balancing of long-term infrastructure planning vs short-term initiatives to ease congestion. Furthermore, as a result of PoliVisu introducing well-defined processes for data governance and decision-making into the transport domain and beyond. 

Outside of the public sector, local stakeholders, including citizens, businesses and media have an improved relationship with their city as a) it's simpler to make their opinions heard and considered; b) it’s easier to hold city governance to account through an increasingly participatory and transparent policy-making process; c) they benefit from faster on-the-ground implementation of effective city transport and land-use enhancements, which makes daily life easier for all, and d) they also have the opportunity to create visualisations for sharing with their own constituencies to strengthen support and engagement for their own specific causes. 

By selecting a combination of tools, techniques, processes and best practices from the Polivisu Toolbox appropriate to their local needs, policy-makers can ensure everyone and anyone with an interest in transport and land-use policy, regardless of technical background, may participate in the experimentation of different strategies and actions by exploring one shared version of the challenge (e.g. location map, heat map or other forms of visual display) regarding the current situation. Using this shared baseline, stakeholders can together change data parameters to simulate policy impacts and explore the pros and cons of different strategies and decision paths. Together with the tools and methodology, PoliVisu helps cities to engage and harness the collective intelligence of their stakeholders for collaborative solution development ensuring both short-term management decisions and long-term strategic policy align and work together to deliver cohesive and effective urban transformation. 

Discovering the right data and converting it into usable form are key elements in the policy visualisation and policy-making process. The availability and findability of big and open data is a crucial element. Polivisu’s Toolbook provides practical experience on obtaining data from data owners on ensuring that personal privacy is protected, and on transforming it into policy-ready data. PoliVisu will improve the link between policymakers and data scientists by a better adaptation of the policymaking process and the evidence creation process by data scientists.

Click here to see their toolbox and here to see their publications. 

Source: PoliVisu - Vision

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