Helping you to use systems thinking to improve the climate resilience of places
Helping to bring diverse groups of people together in inspiring online or in person conversations to build shared understandings, foster cross-sector learning and imagine pathways to climate resilience. Including sensitive community management, ecological inspired facilitation, seamless digital connectivity and inspiring spaces like Living Labs.
Helping partners and communities (be they of places, practices, organisations or topics) to use design and systems tools that might create interesting ‘systems interventions’ that achieve progress toward climate objectives. Including user-centred design, rapid prototyping, data interoperability and social, business and service model innovation such as Net Zero Waste Norfolk.
Planning for places
Helping partners and communities to apply systems thinking approaches to improve the climate resilience of places. Including embedding sustainability and circular economy into masterplanning, infrastructure strategy and coordination, innovative financing models, and thought leadership such as the Healthy City.
Projects & Initiatives
Living Lab Playbook
Collaboratively accelerate your climate resilience innovation
Data-driven finance for a sustainable Kenya
Data-driven integrated planning tools for sustainable investment in Kisumu, Kenya
Pathway for a Sustainable Covid Recovery in Yucatán – Camino para una Recuperación Sostenible post-Covid en Yucatán
How Yucatán can best utilise data skills in a sustainable recovery from Covid-19
Net-Zero Waste Champions
Enable local groups to help businesses in Norfolk to create net-zero waste plans
The Healthy City
A futuristic reimagining of the urban economy and built environment
Open Data Infrastructure for City Resilience Navigator
Tool for cities to access guidance on open data for resilience
Exeter Living Lab
The Living Lab brings cross-sector stakeholders together for local solutions
Collaboratively defining a sustainability vision and decision tool for a garden city
City Finance lab – Northern Gateway
Advising green infrastructure investment for the Northern Gateway
Investigating the opportunities of creating a green recovery
ACT on NBS
Support uptake & scale up of Nature-Based Solutions
Integrating town planning, public health, climate, biophilia & neuroscience expertise
Review of an action plan to enhance the approach to Ofwat’s Resilience in the Round
Evidencing the commercial vision to deliver a commercially attractive, climate-resilient city
Strategic advice in support of sustainability visioning and data integration
City Finance lab – Norway
Technical expertise to develop finance solutions for green urban projects
Using agent-based modelling to analyse the potential for waste-to-energy from water
Silver Access – Capstone project
Data and place based access for & co-created with, local at risk groups
URGED for Scottish Canals
Decision-support tool for managing flood risk to infrastructure using satellite data
Future Cities Africa
Using agent-based modelling to plan for water supply and waste water infrastructure
A flexible three-stage approach to
co-designing solutions to complex issues
We champion a practical, integrated systems approach to driving sustainable performance in city regions. Our offering allows for a gradual onboarding to secure approach validation and internal buy-in, followed by prototype demonstration of systems-based solutions and capacity building. The first two stages are designed to prepare cities for a fully functioning systems modelling platform to support planning and investment decisions that will help them build sustainability and resilience.
Regional stakeholder buy-in
- Stakeholder & governance
- Institutional capacity & data
- Priority focus areas
- Prototype model data & tech requirements
- Access to funding
- Practical next steps Results Matrix (RM)
Results Matrix (RM)
Topic exploration and prioritisation
Prototype demonstration of systems-based solutions to region-specific challenges
Capacity building through advance learning
Regional priorities, focus area
Prototyping & discovery
Learning & capacity building
Investment & brokering solutions
- Data maturity support
- Rapid prototyping
- Topic-expert user group
- Model interoperability
Use cases and action plan
- Enhanced data use & analytics
- Realistic simulation of a sector solution
- Routemap adopted and completed by project actors
- Outline investment proposal
- Integration of effective solutions
Fully functioning systems modelling for value creation
Project infrastructure options to build regional sustainability and resilience
Systems Modelling Platform
- Codeveloped Integrated systems model
- Scenario testing for project design and investment decisions
- User-Friendly interface
- Hackathon for regional
Learning & Capacity Building
Training, knowledge sharing & increased learning power
Brokering investment & effective technology
- Connecting investment & innovations to bankable projects
- Codeveloped with expert-user group
How we Work
Tools and approaches
At Resilience Brokers, we are continuously working with our partners to improve and develop new approaches that embrace systems thinking and collaborative ideals to help unlock ‘system value’ and achieve greater resilience and flourishing in regions.
This section outlines some of the latest methods and approaches we’ve employed with partners and clients. If you’re interested in finding out more or trying out these, do get in touch with our team.
What is systems thinking?
The urgent transformational change required by regions to withstand the emerging global challenges can be achieved through systems thinking.
Systems thinking allows us to better understand the whole context of a complex challenge with all its connections and interrelationships. This approach helps to identify the root cause as well as the potential source of a potential opportunity, enabling data-informed, long-term and cost-effective decision making.
Systems thinking uses methods like causal loop diagrams (which show how problems rely on many interconnected ‘loops’ or factors) and tools such as dynamic models that show the feedback loops of a system. Feedback loops are the cause and effect between different variables (like amount of rainfall) or actions (like a planning decision to use natural vegetation to capture rainfall) that lead to a particular outcome (like reduced flood risk in a cost-effective manner).
Systems thinking, then, allows stakeholders to better comprehend how a system functions through the connections between different elements and components of a system — environmental, social, economic, or policy-related — and to understand the behaviour or interests these connections generate, by exploring different ‘what-if’ scenarios and different types of interventions.
How we use systems thinking
Resilience Brokers was set up to bring systems solutions to tackle systemic challenges. Our approach to systems thinking establishes collaborative environments and embraces inclusive planning to unlock shared value and the open-data movement, powered by pioneering systems modelling technology and advanced data science to drive sustainable performance.
Integrated-systems modelling for city-regions
We have prototyped and are applying an open-source, integrated human-ecology-economics systems platform that enables climate-compatible, risk sensitive planning, policy-making, investment and procurement for city-regions globally.
resilience.io is designed as a computer-based platform that provides an integrated systems view of a city-region. An analysis and decision-support tool for collaboration and resilience decision-making, the resilience.io platform combines computer representations of resource flows, human and business activities and infrastructure systems. The platform contains a growing library of process models (digital twins) of typical human, industrial and ecological systems, the relevant ones of which are used in a local instance to create a tailored integrated systems model for a city-region.
Users work in multi-disciplinary teams in regions to create integrated models, test scenarios including infrastructure, fiscal, policy and behaviour interventions and build an understanding of preferred options to achieve their own regional objectives.
It is designed to connect to many data sources (see Data Integration), including from earth observation satellites, government and private sector data, local sensor networks, smart phones, tablets and local survey data. This data is processed by the systems model and visualised to give an improved understanding of the human, economic and ecological systems within a region including how these are interlinked.
Prototype originally developed with Imperial College London and the Institute of Integrated Economic Research. More details including research papers can be found on resilience.io web pages.
Projects involving Integrated Systems Modelling
Achieving sustainability in the built environment requires a systemic approach centred around simple solutions that achieve multiple sustainability objectives and deliver a highly sustainable return on investment. Resilience Brokers developed our Sustainability Compass as a bespoke tool to help clients meet their ambitions through a systemic approach centred around simple solutions that embed sustainability into masterplanning and the collaborative delivery process, which often involves multiple actors (e.g., engineering, cost consultants, architecture and urban design, as well as project stakeholders).
The Sustainability Compass tool fosters innovation and continuous improvement, using proven and industry-leading approaches that many stakeholders can contribute to; the tool allows a balance to be struck that avoids disengaging people or incentivising adverse unintended consequences from overly prescriptive performance targets or onerous monitoring requirements. The sustainability framework behind the compass is structured in response to central questions, with the project-specific answers, of: who (people – both end users and development partners), when (process –architectural work stages), where (place -i.e. site or land use class), what (performance targets – using standard indicators and assessment methods), and why(sustainability objectives). We then frame the objectives, usually into four thematic categories: Society, Economy, Environment, and Development. This brief identifies performance targets linked to all four sets of objectives, and cross-cutting examples of how they might be achieved in practice.
The visual metaphor of a compass pointing towards sustainability is used to integrate these components. Targets are informed by a holistic approach to sustainability that usually includes, for example, the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Social and Natural Capital, Low Carbon development, Biodiversity Net Gain, Quality of Life indices, and Whole Life Circular Economy principles. Reference projects and case studies and others examples are included within the brief to illustrate how they could be achieved.
For the actors involved with a project’s delivery, the Sustainability Compass and its accompanied sustainability framework set out masterplan-level sustainability objectives and assessment criteria, illustrative examples of possible approaches, and key processes and responsibilities (that can be updated dynamically in real time) expected of the design and delivery team to achieve the overall sustainability vision.
Example project: Ebbsfleet Central
Systems visualization and mapping
Resilience Brokers use a systems mapping approach to organise complex information and relationships into a map that is visual, aesthetically pleasing and useful for investigating challenges and thinking about interventions. A user can see direct relationships between key areas (nodes) and navigate around the map to find nodes that positively reinforce one another to create a virtuous circle (a self-reinforcing dynamic that supports a particular objective). The co-creation of a systems map helps communities, local government, businesses, academics and students to come together and tackle shared problems.
Open Data Infrastructure for Resilient Cities
The Open Data Infrastructure Roadmap (ODIR) for Cities is a strategic tool for the development of city-level open data infrastructure aligned with the City Disaster Resilience Scorecard and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction 10 Essentials for urban resilience.
Resilience Brokers helped with the creation of the original document providing and selecting relevant case studies and data sources.
In the second phase of the development Resilience Brokers led a team to redesign the ODIR as a dynamic, non-linear online tool and make it available online.
We also re-configured it to consider city-level data infrastructure development for cities.
Open Data As A Key Enabler Of City Disaster Resilience
The Roadmap, Showcase and Guide to Open Data Infrastructure for City Resilience aim to help place data at the centre of another growing practice area that intersects with the smart cities sector – that of urban resilience and disaster risk reduction. It has a particular focus on open data as a key enabler of the kind of collaborative problem definition, risk analysis and response that resilience action planning requires. It also highlights how investments in open data-based approaches combined with the use of geospatial data and geographic information systems (GIS) can generate strong resilience dividends for city authorities.
A Resource For Urban Planners And Risk Managers
Open Data Infrastructure for City Resilience has been developed as a resource for city officials with responsibilities that include urban planning, risk reduction, resilience building and civil contingency. It has been designed, therefore, to help cities to integrate open data policies and infrastructure into their wider city data strategies and the development of their resilience action plans.