Imperial College London

VENTURA - New £1m EPSRC-funded digital research project

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Manchester canal

VENTURA - New £1m EPSRC-funded digital research project

CSEI’s Director Dr Ana Mijic to lead new £1m EPSRC-funded digital research project to help make urban growth more sustainable

The Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation at Imperial College London will conduct novel research to collaboratively develop an innovative digital service for future water management that will support efforts to make urban growth more sustainable. VENTURA is a collaborative research project between Imperial College London (ICL), the British Geological Survey (BGS), and University College London (UCL). Led by CSEI’s Director Dr Ana Mijic, the VENTURA team will help end users explore housing and water system planning options using new virtual and digital engagement methods.

The way in which the built environment can work with the natural environment to avoid degrading it is an important challenge for a range of stakeholders, not only engineers and geologists, but planners, landowners, local government and policy makers. The project will investigate how models of the natural and built environment can be applied to improve water management decisions in the context of local urban planning.

VENTURA includes the creation of a novel web-based virtual decision room (VDR) and digital tools for project stakeholders and end-users to explore the impact of different planning and decision scenarios and make decisions accordingly.

The VDR will be co-created with local government, the local community, regulators and water utility companies to collaboratively plan and evaluate the environmental sustainability of urban growth planning scenarios using water consumption and waste water treatment and reuse.

This will be achieved by integrating two state-of-art digital tools: a ground risk calculator (GRISC) and a whole-water system model (CityWat). The project team will work together with stakeholders and end users to properly define the question and potential solutions for a range of housing and water system planning scenarios.

VENTURA is one of 10 projects receiving funding to find sustainable digital solutions to pressing sustainability issues through the EPSRC Sustainable Digital Society call.

Dr Ana Mijic said “We are very excited about the VENTURA project. It has the potential to fundamentally change the way local planning authorities use digital information to support their decisions and engage with key stakeholders. We hope that the novel version of our state-of-the-art CityWat model, embedded within an interactive platform, will provide a proof-of-concept for a digital twin of integrated land-water planning system.”

The virtual decision room will be tested by applying it in Greater Manchester and London Borough of Enfield case studies. This will enable end-users to transform their ability to explore different development options that align to their strategic planning and water management priorities.

VENTURA will directly support the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in their pioneering work to place them at the heart of housing delivery and overcoming wider issues such as flood risk, brownfield land remediation, environmental degradation and wider resilience to climate change in the North of England.

It will also support Enfield Council in their transition to a digital planning systems that will enable consideration of infrastructure needs, investment opportunities and future housing.

This will be underpinned by engaging with local communities and local plans, which currently do not include water demand and water quality evaluation because of lack of accessible and available evidence. Both case studies will enable community groups to contribute more effectively to these plans through collaboration with partner local organisations such as Thames21 and The Mersey Rivers Trust.

VENTURA directly addresses the current UK Government's high-profile strategic initiatives including the 'Planning for the future' White Paper and the ‘National Digital Twin Programme’. It will help to address reducing the length of time taken to produce and review evidence for local plans and development decisions. This should support overall improvements to environmental quality and community engagement in decision making.

Reporter

Jeni Giambona

Jeni Giambona
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering