Can Big Data Support Smart(er) Evaluation?: Theoretical Consideration Starting From the Territorial Integrated Evaluation Approach

Can Big Data Support Smart(er) Evaluation?: Theoretical Consideration Starting From the Territorial Integrated Evaluation Approach

Grazia Brunetta (Politecnico di Torino, Italy) and Ombretta Caldarice (Politecnico di Torino, Italy)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7927-4.ch007
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In the last decade, the value of big data for social sciences is declared to be high for its social impact. This kind of data is currently applied to create a wealth of constantly updating information that in the spatial domain are generally used to support decision making. This chapter falls under this heading, and it presents the results of a research program developed by an interdisciplinar research team of the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning of Politecnico di Torino for the Autonomous Province of Trento in which the Territorial Integrated Evaluation methodology was applied for evaluating regional development and designing territorial scenarios. According to the results of the research, TIE methodology proposes a smart approach to territorial evaluation as it links the strategic dimension of evaluation to the regional planning process. Starting from the TIE methodology, the chapter aims to represent a small step in the theoretical discussion on the big data in social sciences discussing its potential role for territorial evaluation.
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The Territorial Integrated Evaluation Methodology In Trentino1

The Territorial Integrated Evaluation (TIE) is a scientific methodology2 designed to support institutional innovation in territorial governance and policies (Brunetta, 2013). TIE methodology aims at providing an overall evaluation of the territorial system under examination, employing multidimensional indicators and synthetic indexes useful to support regional planning and management processes. Additionally, TIE methodology proposes to articulate the strategic dimension of the evaluation in planning process fostering institutional innovation (Alexander, 2006). As experimented in the Italian context, TIE methodology is not intended to take the place of legally mandated assessment procedures, as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), but it is meant to be a voluntary evaluation process that helps decision-making for planning and designing territorial transformation and development. In other words, TIE methodology fosters a ‘meta-evaluation’ process intended to act as a new institutional framework to innovate the capacity building of territorial policies. In this perspective, TIE’s main strategic action is to foster ‘technical knowledge’ as a learning process for institutional authorities.

TIE articulates this strategic approach following three main features (Brunetta, 2015: 16):

  • TIE is a gradual learning process continuously evolving thanks to the monitoring system that follows the implementation of territorial development;

  • TIE is oriented towards the creation of policies as it is not just an analytical methodology;

  • TIE is a form of dialogue among institutions, and between institutions and citizens as it aims to improve the level of cooperation and subsidiarity.

Following these principles, the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST) of Politecnico di Torino research group3 implemented from 2011 the TIE methodology in order to radically rethink the planning approach to local development of the Autonomous Province of Trentino (APT). The reasons for this innovative wave can be traced back to two basic institutional conditions, i.e. the reform of APT spatial planning framework, initiated by the approval of a new inter-municipal level of VCs (Valley Communities), and the reform of APT retail planning legislation, conducted with the enactment of the European reform regulations and national decrees on local services. In this context, the APT has had to face a formidable challenge, namely to orient news direction for territorial development policies concerning the use of qualitative parameters without giving up the territorial planning and the conservation of the landscape values. The goal of TIE methodology, therefore, was to design a new orientation of provincial policies while harmonizing the needs of territorial development with those of conservation of landscape values. This institutional context means that the TIE’s approach to designing territorial scenarios needs to look simultaneously at different themes, such as retail, tourism, infrastructures, environment and landscape, meeting both the need for economic growth and the need for landscape conservation values.

Technically, TIE methodology in Trentino is structured in six consequential phases:

  • 1.

    Definition of TIE evaluation themes;

  • 2.

    Definition of the TIE evaluation scales, i.e. macro-scale (VCs level) and micro-scale (local level);

  • 3.

    Definition of the TIE evaluation criteria and indicators (see Table 1 for the macro-scale);

  • 4.

    Evaluation of the spatial dynamics of the VCs in view of the indicators of the TIE matrix;

  • 5.

    Identification of territorial scenarios for each VCs among Scenario 1‘Retail – Designing the territorial retail system’, Scenario 2 ‘Marketing – Designing the integration of retail, tourism and landscape’, and Scenario 3 ‘Landscape – enhancing the landscape identity of the territorial system’;

  • 6.

    Identification of systems of territorial scenarios relationships among VCs.

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