Visualizing development effects: new research

Author: 
Julian Paquette

Imagine being able to see and feel how your community will be affected by a proposed development, including how the changes could affect your daily life before a shovel ever goes into the ground.

Dr. Robert Newell, an instructor and postdoctoral researcher in the School of Environment and Sustainability, along with Ian Picketts of Quest University and the University of Northern British Columbia, has been awarded a $25,000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Engage Grant to do just this.

By creating immersive visualizations of different community development scenarios, Newell’s project Spaces, Places and Possibilities will help those in the District of Squamish – the community partner in this case study – experience the impact of proposed changes to their environment.

“We’ve already done modelling work and this involved estimating a variety of social, economic and environmental outcomes that could potentially occur from developing the community certain ways. This type of work is useful for planning, but it results it in a series of graphs and numbers, which is not very engaging to certain audiences,” Newell says.

“The visualizations will provide a different way of understanding the scenarios, and we will explore if and how this enables more effective community engagement and participatory planning.”

SSHRC Partnership Engage Grants support partnered research activities that inform decision-making at an organization from the public, private or not-for-profit sector. They respond to immediate needs facing organizations and allow non-academic organizations and postsecondary researchers access each other’s unique knowledge, expertise and capabilities.

Spaces, Places and Possibilities is affiliated with Dr. Ann Dale's Community Research Connections program. Read more about Robert Newell’s research.

Creative Commons photo by Canadian Veggie.