Mai Ahmed gave a presentation on the topic “Unknown knowns: Knowledge mining for sustainable transformation research and practice” at the AESOP Congress in Tartu, Estonia on 27 July 2022 on behalf of the SURE Facilitation & Synthesis Research project. The presentation is part of the session track „Methods: Digital innovations of inclusive planning“. Scholars, researchers and practitioners have been invited to present their latest experiences and to discuss on how new technologies may innovate future spatial planning research, education, and practice. The focus was on digital technologies as support to more communicative planning, decision-making, and governance (e.g., Planning Support Systems), as well as the introduction of new technologies for changes in the design (e.g. innovation in green, blue, grey infrastructure, as well as in housing, industry, and other systems).
The development of urban areas in emerging and developing countries has faced challenges in recent years that stem from growing dynamism, complexity, and pressure to act. Areas such as decreasing living and environmental conditions, low resilience, or poor controllability by decision-makers and institutions have re-iterated themselves as problematic. These circumstances put civil and public actors in the necessity of offering intelligent, feasible strategies for improving local conditions, opening economic perspectives, and fitting cities and regions with sustainable processes and systems. The comprehensive and adequate decision-making is often hardened by the multitude of information generated by research projects, findings, approaches, solutions, strategies, and policies in various fields aiming for sustainable urban transformation.
The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) funding priority »Sustainable Development of Urban Regions«(SURE) is application-oriented research. The SURE funding priority supports ten collaborative research projects focused on urban sustainability and one accompanying facilitation and synthesis research project. The ten collaborative projects aim to develop practical solutions for more sustainable and resilient cities and regions in Southeast Asia and China. The SURE Facilitation and Synthesis Project has one of the main aims to research and employ state-of-the-art technologies and develop digital tools that help to uncover dormant knowledge („Unknown Knowns“), identify open questions and problems („Known Unknowns“), and outline solutions and trends for future research on sustainable urban development. It will do so by researching the ten collaborative research projects and their scientific context and synthesizing relevant new knowledge from this kind of meta-research. The investigation follows a three-step methodology:
(1) Knowledge mapping – exploratory data collection and outline of the status quo of knowledge in the projects;
(2) Research Intelligence – analysis and diagnostics of projects‘ content and development through novel tools for knowledge management, including AI-based document analysis,
(3) Future insights – the anticipation of general future trends and developments to inform research policies, project development and local implementation. – From these (meta-)research activities, replicable technical instruments and scientific insights are expected to inform sustainable transformation research, education, and practice in the mid-term future.