Transdisciplinary decisionmaking in Brainport Smart District

For Brainport Smart District, it is crucial to realize a sustainable, circular, and socially cohesive neighborhood that benefits from joint food production,water management, and energy generation. The TU Eindhoven contributed to this by developing an optimization-based spatial serious game that offers an evaluation of different WEF-nexus scenarios.

Stage of the project




Starting Up





Why was this project started?

Regarding the primary aim of the Brainport Smart District (BSD) for being sustainable, circular, and socially cohesive, it is required to design a system that considers locally available resources and raw materials. For this, decision-makers and BSD stakeholders need to develop different design plans and collect feedback on how each works so that the neighborhood can function optimally. Therefore, this project took a socio-technical approach to WEF-nexus for a successful decision-making process implementation in BSD. The developed serious game, as an iterative feedback system, measures performance and have a transparent information network in order to keep the BSD system design running properly and efficiently. By combining computer simulations with a multi-stakeholder decision-making objective, the game offers WEF-nexus modeling approaches in BSD a tool for collaboration, learning outcomes, and behavior change. It increases an understanding of the WEF-nexus issue across various BSD stakeholders and the long-term implications of different policies that may be implemented. In an interactive and entertaining way, players learn about the complex interplay of social and ecological aspects, and the impacts of integrated resource management on social inclusion and nature conservation. The game serves as a training tool, which encourages systemic thinking and discovering the nature of nonlinear cause-effect relations.

The results of the project so far

The developed serious game has been evaluated by multiple stakeholders of BSD. In summary, it has acted as an innovative decision-support tool illustrating general characteristics of complex interrelations among WEF-nexus, land-use planning, and social inclusion. The scenario-based structure allows players to explore specific interactions in a stepwise practice. This serious game contributes to bridging the gap between science and practice in the field of integrated resource management and transdisciplinary decision-making applications.

What are specific, distinctive, strong elements in this project?

Through the application of this serious game, urban decision-makers can:
a) learn about the complexity of integrated food, water, and energy resources management problems;
b) experiment safely using a computer model of a real system;
c) understand conflicting objectives (i.e., minimization of ecological stress in terms of a set of processes and activities for meeting demands of society for WEF resources, and maximization of social acceptance in terms of how satisfactory choices of nexus optimization actions are for the society); and
d) develop strategies for coping with complexities without being a burden on real-world resources and the society.
Moreover, online accessibility and the use of regular web browsers have given the game distinct advantages. It is independent of operating systems, broadly available, easily accessible, and supported by the possibility of embedding relevant information.

Which specific lessons, do's and don'ts would you like to share? What would be suggestions for others when preparing or implementing the project in their own city?

The inherent complexity of WEF-nexus makes stakeholder engagement in decision-making processes essential. Experience has shown that the involvement of stakeholders can delineate the space for agreement or compromise, take into account local concerns, bring new options to light, increase public awareness, and, not least, enhance the credibility of public policies. One way to address stakeholder engagement is through a computer-based serious gaming approach, translating complex modeling results into interactive virtual simulations. Computer simulations can include both the techno-physical complexity—the underlying physical elements of the system and its uncertainties—and the socio-political complexity—the strategic interactions between stakeholders in the policy domain. Towards multi-stakeholder decision-making, serious games provide experimental, rule-based, interactive environments where players learn by taking actions and by experiencing their effects through feedback mechanisms.

Can you tell us how valuable this project was for you?

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3. Could this project be shared to - and implemented in - your own city?
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