Bath Spa University is to receive over £540,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council to address knowledge gaps in the implementation of Smart City initiatives in Bristol and Mexico City.
Dr Ian Thornhill, Senior Lecturer in Nature Conservation and Environmental Management in Bath Spa University’s biology department, has been awarded more than £540,000 by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), via the Newton Fund and the Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT), for his project entitled ‘Resilient people need resilient ecosystems’, also known as ‘RESPiRES’.
Through collaboration with Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and Ecosur in Mexico, and Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Huddersfield in the UK, the two-and-a-half year long project aims to ensure sustainable outcomes for the communities, the environments and the economies involved.
RESPiRES will focus on social-ecological resilience across Mexico’s emerging, and the UK established, economies.
The team plans to identify future-proof smart tools and techniques that are available to monitor blue-spaces such as wetlands, ponds, lakes and rivers.
Through their research, the project group aim to understand locals’ values and perceptions of urban blue-spaces, as well as identify local and regional factors that will ultimately deliver highly-valued and resilient blue-spaces in Smart Cities.
Dr Ian Thornhill will be the project lead. He said: “I am delighted to be leading this exciting research. Smart and sustainable cities require functional and resilient ecosystems to support the health and well-being of their human population.
“However, this can only be achieved by understanding how people interact with and perceive these ecosystems.
“Blue-spaces, such as wetlands, ponds, lakes and rivers, play a key role in the urban ecosystem and for human health in cities. Understanding the factors that favour healthy ecosystems will facilitate the design of governance systems that improve the provision of highly beneficial services for people.”
By exploring place-based values and applying a standardised analytical framework in both Mexico City and Bristol, the project team will co-construct a suite of indicators for each city that facilitate purposeful monitoring of social-ecological resilience by local communities, and propose the best technologies available to the Smart City in order to do this.
The project will soon be recruiting for Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Assistants to work on the project.