company: Envision Sustainability Tools Inc.
product: sustainable planning software tool
what: MetroQUEST is a powerful computer simulation tool that facilitates a community to make decisions by engaging stakeholders and building support for long-term strategic plans. In other words, it is a software tool that increases the capacity of individuals and organisations to better understand overwhelming amounts of information surrounding complex issues such as urban development, environmental planning, and climate change. In order to do that, QUEST integrates custom narrative, data and modelling in a way that is both interesting and relevant to the audience. Envision employs a wide variety of state-of-the-art computing techniques delivered as stand-alone products or as web-enabled experiences.
who: Envision Sustainability Tools Inc. is a leader in sustainability visioning and planning solutions for metropolitan regions and corporations around the globe. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Envision was founded in 1997, as a spin-off from the world-renowned Sustainable Development Research Institute (SDRI) at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
vision: “Sustainability is simply the choices we make when we understand the consequences of our actions.” (Dave Biggs, Co-Founder, Envision).
why: the QUEST approach emerged out of 10 years of research into sustainability. That research identified three significant challenges that arise when decision makers seek to address sustainability:
how: QUEST addresses these challenges by engaging stakeholders in the creation and exploration of future scenarios for a region using a wide range of sustainability indicators. Using a user-friendly interface, it allows audiences to visualise the consequences of a variety of planning choices through colourful maps and graphs. QUEST is designed to help develop and maintain the support people need to make smart choices for a region in the following way:
- expanded timeframes – sustainability calls for us to go beyond traditional planning to evaluate both the short and the long-term implications of our choices;
- multiple bottom lines – sustainability encourages us to balance a much more comprehensive set of issues in our planning;
- more stakeholders – decision makers are under increasing pressure to engage with an ever-widening set of stakeholders when making decisions.
engage non-experts, decision makers, stakeholders and the public ;
simplify complex choices;
promote holistic and long range regional planning;
foster dialogue about values and visions;
demonstrate transparency through meaningful and proactive involvement;
educate the community on regional planning issues;
demonstrate the costs and benefits of alternative choices;
collect valuable feedback on priorities and acceptable trade-offs;
generate and maintain support for a plan throughout the planning cycle;
monitor progress towards a shared vision.
Since 1997 QUEST has been used successfully on four continents, including North America (Greater Vancouver, Whistler, BC Hydro, Canada; Idaho, United States), Australasia (South East Queensland, Australia; Christchurch, New Zealand; Bali, Indonesia) and Europe (Manchester, England). Moreover, the World Bank recently funded a project in Mexico City, and officials in such far-flung places as Bangalore, India; Curitiba, Brazil; Romania, and Bali are using this software to involve citizens in their planning processes.