Digital tools for urban green infrastructure: : Investigating the potential of e-tools to inform and engage stewards

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Stockholm Resilience Centre

Abstract: As the planet rapidly urbanizes and demand for locally-produced ecosystem services grows, the effective management of urban green infrastructure is increasingly important. A number of digital tools have recently been developed and released that share information and incite citizen participation in the governance, management and planning of urban green infrastructure. In this paper, I analyse six different e-tools within the context of New York City with a focus on the types of knowledge they share and the forms of participation they incite in relation to urban green infrastructure. I explore how e-tool knowledge exchange and participation relate to civic stewardship of urban green spaces, as stewards play a significant role in the local production of urban ecosystem services. The findings indicate that most e-tools are designed to share a large amount of data describing social-ecological systems. In many cases, the tool developers hope that through gaining knowledge about the system, users will develop an ethical consideration for the environmental resource and even take action as environmental stewards. Additionally, while many of the e-tools present complex, exploratory digital learning environments, many also combine virtual experiences with in-person trainings, workshops and coaching. These hybrid approaches harness the power of digital platforms to organize diverse social networks and share large amounts of data while employing more traditional on-the-ground organizing techniques and offer a way forward in an age of increasing dominance of digital data. Further research on these types of hybrid digital approaches is warranted. Future research on e-tool usership and connections to stewardship outcomes could enrich the understanding of how e-tools operate as well as their social-ecological potential and impact.

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