Validation of changes and strategy for EMAPS’ future

Over a year ago, the EMAPS project started with ambitious objectives, a clear strategy, enthusiastic partners, two case studies as “fields of operation”, and a lot of uncertainties about what would happen. After this first year and the completion of the first case study on ageing in the UK, we have experimented (created ?) a series of collaborative practices which questions some formulations of the EMAPS strategy as described in the “overall strategy of the work plan” chapter (p. 20 of the description of work). It would be burdensome to define or to justify every aspect of the new strategy as we devised it during the meeting in London in December (it will certainly be partly discussed in the draft of the future article promised by Tommaso). I would like only to submit to you some remarks worthy to be noticed because either all partners must agree on them (including vote), or they impact the description of work and must be validated by the Commission.

Please react on this post, and use it to think of other changes which the new strategy involves, whether in terms of deliverables, timeline (gantt), resources etc. From this we will see how to implement the changes.

I. Evolution from strategy as in the description of work

“interactive maps”/ “online communication”/ “in vivo”

In the case of ageing, we actually started off with an offline experiment (field investigation, face to face workshops, paper maps, round tables). The Internet was more the place we retrieved data from than the place we wanted to intervene into. Although “online communication” projects were indeed reviewed (Deliverable 1.1), we detached ourselves from the model of online debates, and got closer to online datascape vizualisations.

 “In vivo” testing meant here a neutral place where we got users and mappers to gather and discuss, which was not specified in the Description of Work. It is different from the way we recently decided to go forward with the climate change adaptation case : “in vivo” now means “within the communities we want to address”, which implies to investigate more closely and critically about these communities’ worlds and practices.

 

“full integrated”/ “quasi-exhaustive collection of the discourses composing the debate on adaptation”/ “single data set”

This was a quite a naive view, and we certainly moved away from that.

We discovered that the particularity of the EMAPS project was the question of the public : what if we take seriously the question of assembling the (deweyan) public around specific issues ? We are faced with a problem : the affected public is not an existing social community (cf Noortje Marres’ work) BUT in order to construct it, we must start from somewhere. We alone have no existence (we are not actors already engaged in the issue : we collectively are MAPPERS), so we must work with particular actors who will be our access points, our alpha users. However they do not represent by themselves a supposed community.

Taking up Lucy’s proposal to consider the specific assemblages “user + maps + data + methods”, the consequences on our method is that the objective of creating a single data set to start with just falls apart.

In other words : we had planned an integrated approach (to be extreme : one controversy, one dataset, one design process, one platform) even though we wanted to address different publics and not an “indifferentiated public” (cf. EMAPS description of work). However, we realised that we need to carry out differentiated processes with the help of alpha users from the beginning of the first step i.e. the choice of data, research questions and design strategy. Maps can not start by being autonomous and then attach themselves to users, but the reverse.

 

“social and scientific actors”/ “platform”/ “participation”/ “beyond the limit of academic community”

Now both the design of the whole platform, the dissemination and the participation of actors beyond the academic community is to be envisaged in a totally different manner.

The problem is rather : how do you do research driven by social demands/needs, which are not expressed as such ? It is almost as if the dissemination phase would come prior to the elaboration of the platform. We need to create collaborations from the beginning of the research phase, rather than at the end. This includes collaborations within the EMAPS consortium, which we built in the first year pretty much the same way we will do (and have started to do) with external partners. Hence the conclusions we have drawn from the ageing test are related as much to the method/process itself (a first draft of a publication should be submitted by Tommaso in the next 2-3 weeks), as on ageing and vizualisation strategies (cf. Richard’s book and the atlas of maps that were created).

II. New strategy

User+data assemblages

After discussion, and taking into account the preceding discussions and analyses of the challenges the project is facing, we have identified four “user+data” cases in the climate change topic where EMAPS researchers have opportunities (eg good connections or good data access),

The cases are :

- ONERC (the French national observatory on the effects of global warming) whose missions at the national level are : “

To collect and disseminate information, studies and research on risks associated to climate change and extreme climate events.
 To make recommendations on potential measures of prevention and adaptation in order to limit the risks associated to climate change.”

- weADAPT : an online community of adaptation practitioners

- The Guardian datablog : blog dedicated to data journalism and data visualisation.

- KomPass : “The Competence Centre on Climate Impact and Adaptation (Kompetenzzentrum Klimafolgen und Anpassung, KomPass; part of the Federal Environmental Agency, UBA) provides guidance and advice on adaptation activities in Germany. The Centre works with scientists, ministries and federal agencies and supports the implementation of the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate.”

 

User+data+maps+methods

For each case, the method will draw on what we have experienced with the ageing case study and includes developing relationships by the EMAPS partner who is already in contact with the organization (Sciences Po for ONERC and weADAPT, UvA for the Guardian datablog, TUDo for KOMPASS), to set up short (eg. 1.5 day meetings) attended by EMAPS researchers from different specialisms, all of which need to be present in order to create maps and tools within climate change: digital methods (SciencesPo, UvA, Barcelona Media); visualization and design (POLIMI); user perspectives and dissemination (YF); and climate change (TU Dortmund; SciencesPo). During these practical workshops we will aim to co‐design with these lead users possible maps of climate change, which we will then go on to develop. In some cases we will present maps we think of as “off the shelf” (ie we have something similar already or nearly ready). In some cases we will aim to create something bespoke with data they have.

The deadline agreed upon for the first iteration of the coproduction of maps is August 2013, with an intermediary step (i.e. getting in touch, “convincing” the users to collaborate and explaining what EMAPS can do with them in at least two different meetings) before the next EMAPS meeting, which was  decided to take place in Amsterdam on April 16-17, 2013.

It was then noted that we need appropriate criteria from the beginning to measure the success of the process and create the metrics after the first meeting with the users. For example, track the map published on the Guardian, feeds, comments, etc.

One measure of success for the final platform could be the fact that it attracts visitors which were not members of the four test communities which we will work with.

5 Responses to “Validation of changes and strategy for EMAPS’ future”

  1. Structuring the tasks and working steps for WP3 – Some ideas

    Based on the report from Lucy and Tommaso and on Axel’s summary of the last discussions the TU Dortmund team sat together and came up with some ideas on how to structure the new approach in WP3. TU Dortmund will contribute to all deliverables and to the majority of tasks described below.

    0. Wrap-up of WP2 results and conclusions for WP3 (already discussed during the London meeting and compiled in Lucy’s and Tommaso’s “Report on in vivo test of digital methods for debate mapping”.

    1. Re-definition of objectives for climate change adaptation issue, agree on and define general approach for WP3: (a) agree on common terms (EMAPS glossary with general terms but also climate change adaptation and ageing), (b) agree on monitoring/evaluation indicators, (c) set criteria for selection of case studies (ex-post argumentation as case studies have already been selected), (d) pre-select potentially relevant maps/issues (pre-test), (e) co-develop draft maps with stakeholders, (f) adapt maps, (g) observe and identify impacts of the maps, (h) define and provide basis for future use of the maps (online database, dissemination activities). (1 deliverable)

    2. Development and implementation of operational approach in each of the case studies: Agree on a common approach for all selected case studies such as, (a) composition of teams (digital methods, visualization and design, user perspectives and dissemination, climate change adaptation), (b) draft EMAPS approach and WP3 objectives on 1-2 pages to provide the same background material in all case studies, (c) first contact to stakeholders, (d) analysis of stakeholders (their mandate/mission, strategic goals, area of activity, range, relationship to other actors), (e) define objectives for each individual case study (according to the results of the stakeholder analysis), (f) design, carry out and conclude from short workshops; discuss on stakeholder needs, most important issues/debates/controversies, promising visualization types and on how stakeholders would use the maps (1.5 days, though it may be difficult to involve representatives for more than one day but we should try anyway), (g) design maps, (h) feedback round from stakeholders, (i) implementation (our own platform, on stakeholders’ websites or other), (j) evaluation of results in the case studies (as already suggested in London: one measure of success for the final platform could be the fact that it attracts visitors which were not members of the four test communities) (1 deliverable with reports from all 4 case studies)

    3. Comparative analysis of the case study results and conclusions for e-mapping and visualization tools in the area of climate change adaptation (1 deliverable)

    4. General conclusions concerning the usability of the EMAPS approach for other issues like climate change mitigation, disaster risk management, governance etc., strengths and weaknesses, potentials and limitations, further research needs. (1 deliverable)

    5. Evaluation of whole approach. (1 deliverable)

    Best regards,
    Mark, Stefan and Jacqueline

  2. For Barcelona Media it is hard to assess how these changes would affect
    our workplan.

    From our point of view everything basically depends on:
    - When will the data be available for analysis?
    - Which is the data-format?
    - What can be done with the data (what information does it contain)?
    - What should be done with the data?
    - Do we still want to build a platform? (or just a set of maps?)
    - Where do we situate the Contropedia side project? Will it be a
    platform, the only platform which comes out of the project (or something
    else)?

    I would recommend trying to answer these question before adapting the workplan.

    Kind regards,
    Andreas K. and David L.

  3. Hi Andreas and David, sorry for replying late.
    Your questions are very good ones for the next EMAPS meeting … The answer salso depends on what you think shoud be done.

    - When will the data be available for analysis?
    Some already are (see my post here http://www.emapsproject.com/blog/archives/2047) and some will be coming in the next months.
    - Which is the data-format?
    To be discussed in the technical meeting on April 18th (see already the previous mentioned post, and more to come after our sprint 18-20 March)
    - What can be done with the data (what information does it contain)? What should be done with the data?
    We are answering to these questions in an iterative manner, see again the previous mentioned post.
    - Do we still want to build a platform? (or just a set of maps?)
    Yes we want, though the new strategy changes the way it will be done because we will start with “individual maps”. However we want to have a long brainstorming session about the platform during the upcoming meeting (to be lead by Density Design).
    - Where do we situate the Contropedia side project? Will it be a
    platform, the only platform which comes out of the project (or something
    else)?
    I think it should be a part of the platform, at least for the part that concerns the mapping of the climate change adaptation issue. But it should also be made available independantly from EMAPS, and the form depends on what partners involved consider best (to be brainstormed during the meeting on April 15th).

  4. Thank you Axel,
    In principle I would say that the changes mainly affect only the timing of the work-plan, but we should probably wait for the discussions in the Amsterdam meeting before giving a definitive answer.

  5. OK good. Could you just give me an idea (for example in terms of timeline or whatever ou think) because I want to prepare a doc before the April meeting ?
    Thanks !

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