Visualization supported dialogues in the Baltic Sea Region

Tina-Simone Neset1, Carlo Navarra1, Julie Wilk1, René Capell2, Alena Bartosova2

 

1Department of Thematic Studies – Environmental Change, Linköping University, Sweden

2 Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Norrköping, Sweden

 

Drawing on recent research and development in geographical and information visualization, the BONUS MIRACLE project developed an interactive visualization tool to enable stakeholders around the Baltic Sea to explore data generated by hydrological and hydrochemical modelling as well as visual representations of cost-benefit assessments and illustrations of pathways that were developed in the project. The BONUS MIRACLE Tool is a web-based tool that has been designed to allow exploration of data for four case study catchments as well as the whole Baltic Sea Region. The MIRACLE Tool supports the selection of multiple variables as well as land-use and climate change scenarios. Linked multiple views enable users to select and compare results of the HYPE model, an integrated rainfall-runoff and nutrient transfer model developed at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).

The tool is designed to be employed in stakeholder interactions, both in workshops in the MIRACLE pilot areas, for cross case comparisons as well as for deliberations on Baltic Sea Region scale. Introducing new formats to traditional stakeholder interactions, such as focus groups, workshops and consultations, presents however a challenge both in terms of design and analysis. This paper exemplifies a typology of visualization-supported dialogues and discusses challenges, opportunities and trade-offs.

 

Figure 1: The Baltic Sea Region Module of the MIRACLE VISUALIZATION TOOL with the ‘total phosphorus concentration’ indicator for the baseline (current climate) to the left and its relative change for the future climate in the 2050s to the right. The two maps allow simultaneous exploration of scenarios and indicators.

 

Typologies of visualization supported dialogues cover a wide range of application areas including (i) the use of inspirational imagery, such as images representing e.g. measures that might be taken in a catchment to reduce nutrient emissions, (ii) map representations of supporting information, e.g. flood risk maps, (iii) interactive map displays for data exploration, or (iv) information visualization tools such as Sankey diagrams to display e.g. cost benefit data.

While these typologies have different aims in stakeholder dialogues, the use of interactive tools and visual representations demands new approaches to the design of these interactions. In particular the integration of various types of visual information in stakeholder dialogues creates a need to revisit and rethink participatory research methods to provide opportunities for the available information to be optimally used by stakeholders to guide, support and inform their discussions. This paper presents aspects that need to be addressed when designing interactive tools for participatory processes as well as to develop a methodological framework for the application of visualization supported tools in stakeholder dialogues.