Sustainability, Governance, and Methods

Project Start: 01 January 2019

Consortium: MODUL Technology, webLyzard technology, Ketchum Publico, KPMG

Funding: Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), ICT of the Future Program

EPOCH will measure the effects on statistical indicators of events being reported in the news and social media. Innovatively, it will use the measured effects of now past events to predict the future changes expected due to future events detected in the public dialogue. Through the EPOCH dashboard, organizations can identify and thus better prepare for these changes, adapting their communications, marketing and resources accordingly. This will be demonstrated in the domains of purchase price forecasting and public relations.

Motivation

Any organization today, in any domain, has to plan for the future without having full knowledge of what the future will bring. Appropriate planning is vital to corporate success, whether in making the right operational decisions (ensuring higher stock levels in times of expected rising prices, minimizing stock in times of expected falling prices), maximizing the success of marketing campaigns or getting the message and timing right in internal and external communications. While we may never know everything that the future will bring, a lot of planned and expected future events are referenced every day in the news and social media.

Goals and Use Case

EPOCH will advance the state of the art in event detection and predictive analytics, combining both methods in an innovative manner in order to predict the impact of future events based on observed patterns regarding past events. The result will be the EPOCH platform and dashboard, prototyped for the purchase price forecasting and public relations domains, which can provide stakeholders with far greater insight into future developments in their domain than available today.

Analytic Methods

Quantitative evaluations will assess the predictive capabilities of this dashboard, intended to complement existing time series data and extrapolation-based tools, while qualitative evaluations will prove its usability for our use case partners Ketchum Publico and the KPMG Austria.

Project Start: 01 July 2018

Consortium: webLyzard technology, MODUL University Vienna, Unwired Networks, NAST Consulting

Funding: Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), Mobility of the Future Program

The planning, observation and steering of urban mobility are growing ever more complex due to increasing urban density, varied transport services and rising expectations of city inhabitants and visitors. Integrated information about capacity bottlenecks in the transport infrastructure combined with current and future events is scarce. This results in mobility constraints, capacity overload in current transportation services, and negative social and environmental consequences for the city inhabitants and visitors.

Goals and Use Case

Vienna City Map - EcoMove Use Case To address these challenges, EcoMove will develop knowledge-based solutions for efficient and environmentally sustainable movement in cities, providing customized information about available mobility options. Real-time recommendations for delaying, avoiding or taking alternative options will be presented visually to the users – city residents, visitors, and professional stakeholders – in order to prioritize “necessary” mobility. The City of Vienna will serve as the use case, but the developed methods will be generic and applicable to other cities and regions in follow-up projects.

Analytic Methods

EcoMove will analyze (i) the public debate in news and social media, (ii) open data sources such as DBpedia and public transport data, and (iii) anonymized movement data. Based on this integrated analysis, to be combined with predictive modeling, knowledge about mobility bottlenecks can be extracted. This refers to situations that exceed the nominal capacity, or capacity restrictions due to a disruption in a well-defined geographic region, for example crowding due to a demonstration. EcoMove will yield concrete recommendations for individual decision making, and generate data visualizations to communicate how personal mobility can become more sustainable by minimizing waiting times and prioritizing necessary travel. Visualizations for the EcoMove Mobility Dashboard Based on novel algorithms to detect trends across multiple data sources, the EcoMove solution will predict future mobility bottlenecks. Recommendations will be based on a combination of historical data and automatically extracted knowledge from public (online) communication. The integrated data will be made available via data services and a mobility dashboard to support professional stakeholders in their planning. With respect to individual behavior, analysis of interaction data will help identify factors and stimuli to trigger behavioral change among residents and tourists alike – deviating from a planned route, for example, to avoid overcrowding.

Project motivation and description

The economy is growing and growing. But is it growing in the right direction, too? Is the quantitative part the dominant goal or is there demand for a strengthened focus on a qualitative part of the overall development? The Easterlin Paradox suggests that material well-being does not automatically lead to increased happiness. Therefore it is very questionable whether it is possible to measure quality-of-life (QoL) just by taking indicators of material well-being into account.

Obviously it is not, as latest research attempts tell us, that more and more effort is taken to fill this vacuum by indicators connected to the subjectively driven part of the story. But this other side of the coin has its handicaps too, as individual self-ratings of happiness are complex constructs influenced by momentary mood, uniqueness of the individual in perceiving life conditions, adaptation processes, and comparison processes based on varying anchor levels. Construct validation studies of subjective well-being (SWB) mainly have to deal with questions like

‘What kind of information can be derived from overall subjective self-ratings?’

 

This missing link is going to be clarified by cognitive interviewing. First of all, the principle aim is to investigate the respondent’s interpretation of the question itself and afterwards the interpretation of the responses to the questions at hand on the interviewer's side. In the end, responses should be based on improved item material on a lower abstract level that will ease the interpretation of the data collected by SWB questionnaires.

 

After constructing a methodology mix of qualitative and quantitative research for evaluating regional living conditions, concrete concerns of inhabitants with various location-specific influences will be discovered, i.e. booming regions, areas with structural problems such as emigration of labor force or human capital, or geographic characteristics, as well as municipalities of special interest such as eco-villages, well-being regions, children-friendly communities or similar. One primary goal is to derive recommendations for local or national policy makers to most effectively increase the living conditions of citizens, and to help directing those interventions to address the concrete underlying problems or happiness drivers – such as immaterial patterns and green consumption behavior motivated by sustainability issues – of the local citizens. Finally, the optimization of the national average SWB may hopefully act as a major economic and political intention.

 

MODUL University has launched an online questionnaire. The aim is to improve the assessment of how life is in our society and whether or to what extent people gain happiness and satisfaction. The questionnaire takes about 10 minutes contains questions about living conditions, quality of life and subjective well-being. It is about the quality of the local environment, about daily hassles and sorrows, and about many circumstances which may influence our daily mood. Material facts are considered as well as emotions, needs, experiences or basic attitudes towards life. Current international developments in official statistics (such as the “GDP and beyond movement” or the “Stiglitz report”) are the background of this study; the purpose is to provide better tools for assessing the well-being of people and in which way it could be improved. The questionnaire results derived from 1,460 respondents (914 paper-pencil, 546 online) are supported by 500 face-to-face interviews, more than 341 diaries and 20 group discussions at 10 different locations in Austria. 

 

Title [Titel]:

Living conditions, quality of life, and subjective well-being in regions: A methodological pilot study with explorative interviewing and quantitative measurement

[Eine qualitative und quantitative Pilotstudie zur Erfassung von Wohlbefinden in Österreich]

 

Technical report [Projektbericht]:

The MODUL study of living conditions

 

Project leader [Projektleiter]:

Univ.-Doz. Dr. Ivo Ponocny

 

Institution:

MODUL University Vienna, Department for Applied Statistics and Economics

 

Funding [Förderung]:

Anniversary Fund of the Austrian National Bank

[Jubiläumsfond der Österreichischen Nationalbank]

(http://www.oenb.at/jublfonds/jublfonds/projectsearch)

…and supported by Austrian municipalities

[…Unterstützung durch Österreichische Gemeinden]

 

Collaboration [Zusammenarbeit]:

University of Vienna: Institute for Psychology, Erich Kirchler, Thomas Slunecko

Sigmund Freud Private University: Elisabeth Ponocny-Seliger

 

Christian Weismayer, Stefan Dressler, Bernadette Stross, Sabine Sedlacek…

Indigenous Communities Land Use and Tropical Deforestation (INCLUDE)

Visit the project website at: https://includeproject.wordpress.com/

Tropical deforestation is an important contributor to climate change, through the release of significant amounts of carbon in the atmosphere. The main proximate cause of deforestation is agricultural expansion, followed by resource extraction. This project will look at the problem of deforestation in the Argentinean dry Chaco in the province of Salta (the Chaco Saltenho). The Chaco Saltenho, part of the Great American Chaco (the second largest tropical forest in the American continent after the Amazon), experiences one of the fastest deforestation rates in the world (on average about 2 football fields per minute over 1970-2015), represents an important agricultural frontier (with over 6 million ha of forest left) and hosts significant ethnic and cultural diversity, including both ‘criollos’ (small scale livestock farmers of European descent) and indigenous peoples (IPs). The project, lasting 5 years, is structured around the following macro-objectives (work packages):

·         Work Package 1 –  Preliminary characterization of the institutional context: the stated objectives are a) to understand the historical and institutional context associated with deforestation in the Salta region; b) to characterize the areas on the basis of the prevalent land uses; c) to assess the role of institutional and socio-economic drivers in land use cover change. The first 12 months will be dedicated to understanding the institutional context, with particular attention to the legal framework (both at federal and provincial level) regarding land use, deforestation, agriculture and IPs communal land rights. Drawing on existing data (deforestation, agricultural data), we will also estimate a model looking at how the changes in the legal framework (e.g., the Forest Law of 2007) affected the relationship between agricultural expansion, intensification, socio-economic changes and deforestation. At the same time, an overview of the situation of the various IPs communities with respect to the status of their communal land rights, will be obtained.

·         Work Package 2 – Characterizing the governance structures associated with IPs land rights: the objective here is to characterize, for an appropriate number of selected communities (4-8), the existing land tenure regime and the associated governance structure (i.e., who are the key stakeholders/actors involved). We anticipate the existence of different set of actors with conflicting interests. On one hand there are actors who are directly affected by a certain configuration of land rights (e.g., IPs communities, criollos farmers, large-scale farmers). On the other hand there are actors who have the ability to promote specific land rights configurations (e.g., public administrations). We intend to adopt social network analysis (SNA) to characterize the relationship between the different set of actors. We will select communities in order to ensure variability with respect to: 1) the degree to which IPs communal land rights are de-facto implemented and 2) the degree of deforestation.

·         Work Package 3 – Characterizing stakeholders’ attitudes: the objectives here are a) to characterize the attitudes of the various actors towards the process of agricultural expansion and deforestation in the region and environmental degradation more in general; b) to evaluate the attitudes towards the existing land tenure regime and governance structures; c) to understand how deliberative processes may shift attitudes; d) to develop a conceptual framework that can be used in strategic planning. In particular we believe that different stakeholders have diverging attitudes, with some (e.g., public administrations, agricultural producers’ organizations etc.) more geared towards agricultural expansion. At the same time, deliberative processes will be implemented to assess whether a shift in existing attitudes (i.e., a convergence) is possible. In order to assess attitudes shift, Q-methodology will be used in appropriately selected communities. Finally, a conceptual framework will be developed in order to facilitate strategic planning for the eventual implementation of the suggestions put forward by the various stakeholders.

·         Work Package 4 – Resource use decision models: the objective here is to characterise the decision processes associated with resource use and extraction of various actors (large-scale farmers, criollos and IPs). In particular, the idea is to include among the explanatory variables also community level explanatory variables, particularly network metrics associated with the prevailing governance structures (as determined in WP2).

VorTEIL Energy Flagship Region

The tourism sector, especially in the Alpine areas, is one of the main employers and generators of value in Austria. Yet in order to make its products and services even more attractive, this world renowned region has to face new challenges, such as climate change and sustainable use of energy and resources. The aim of the “VorTEIL – Energy Flagship Tourism Region” project is to identify potential synergies along the value chain and among relevant stakeholders and to demonstrate that sustainable and resource-efficient technologies can fulfill requirements of tourism infrastructure. The LEADER region "Hohe Tauern" and the largest Austrian ski region "Skicircus" serve as bases for exploring the needs of the tourism sector.

Making Vienna a Leading Startup Center of Europe

There is a widely-shared perception of a scarcity of private equity for investment in knowledge-based start-up businesses in Vienna. In our recent study of the factors that are obstacles for the generation of university spin-offs, the difficulty of finding investors – from both public and private sector sources – was mentioned by different actors, but particularly by university-based entrepreneurs, as a major hindrance to achieving a higher incidence of spin-off generation. The major purpose of this study has been to recommend feasible actions that can propel the Vienna region to become one of the leading dynamic centers for technology-based startups in Europe.

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Evaluation of tertiary education in Vienna

The project aims at identifying the indirect economic effects of private universities in Vienna. The tertiary sector is a highly dynamic sector in Austria and is shaped by growing internationalization. It is especially the location of Vienna where different types of tertiary educational institutions coexist. Besides the public university sector the newly developed private university sector contributes to this growing internationalization trend. Besides a growing body of Austrian students a lot of foreign students are enrolled in these relatively young and small institutions. Besides other effects the question of whether and why these foreign students as highly qualified labor will remain in the Viennese labor market (‘Brain Gain’).

Universities have the potential to be major resources for helping city and regional economies to become more innovative and competitive. One mechanism to achieve this potential is the generation of spin-off companies from university-based research projects. There are a number of benefits to the city or region for focusing on generating spin-offs rather than licensing intellectual property, including that the spin-off will have a very high likelihood of locating and staying within the region, thus adding jobs and income to the local economy. We have identified the most important barriers to the generation of university spin-offs that faculty entrepreneurs face when considering to start-up a company from their university research.  The results of the study can help us to identify the set of initiatives and policies that could yield a higher rate of generation of university spin-offs in the Vienna region, and thus help Vienna achieve its potential as a region of knowledge and innovation.
Executive Summary
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Presentation Slides

This research project identifies and evaluates the different models and structures of implementing strategies of industrial clusters among states in the United States. The first set of results indicate there is a high degree of variation among states in which organizations and actors have responsibilities and authority, the degree to which clusters are identified and targeted by economic data analysis versus local experts, sources of funding, and degree of coordination with other approaches and strategies for regional economic development. Rather than one model of ‘best practice’, there appears to be many that depend upon state economic and industrial structure, political culture, and the analytical capacity of economic development staff.

Universities, as institutions,can ‘bring to the table’ high levels of specialized expertise and know-how, as well as certain types of moral authority and concern for the ‘public good’ that potentially can be employed to contribute to the solution of local and regional problems, and to provide leadership in helping elected officials move their regions forward in terms of innovative strategies, policies, laws, and institutional arrangements. The questions we ask in this project is to what extent are universities fulfilling this role, what are their motivations for doing so, what are their relationships with other actors in regional governance, and are there particular models of university involvement in regional governance that seem most effective for the promotion of regional social and economic development.

Success factors in job re-training programs: the case of the Bioworks program in North Carolina, U.S.A. Bioworks is a new, innovative job re-training program designed to prepare workers who have lost their jobs in declining industry sectors such as textiles, tobacco, and furniture production for manufacturing jobs in the biotechnology industry. The program consists of 120 hours of instruction and is located at eight different community colleges geographically distributed throughout North Carolina. Although the curriculum is standardized among the eight colleges, the array of additional services and the relationship of the colleges to employers vary. This research project utilizes a longitudinal database of enrollees in Bioworks to identify the factors that best explain which graduates of Bioworks receive job offers from biotechnology firms and which do not. We use human capital variables, institutional characteristics of the programs at each of the community colleges, regional economic and labor market conditions, and spatial variables to explain job outcomes.

future.scapes - Global change and its influence on landscape and society. Scenarios of future transition and solution strategies to mitigate negative effects (see project website). Global change encompasses multiple fields: climate-, economic-, social-, and land use change. Knowledge about local effects of global change is still scarce and afflicted with high uncertainty. It is a crucial challenge for political and civil stakeholders to develop strategies to anticipate and cope with globally induced changes. Future.scapes will examine and downscale global change effects to local and regional level. The research will focus on those most pressing economic, societal and landscape transitions. It aims to support practitioners in recognising, understanding and managing change.

Energy efficiency and the real estate economy. The project examines, to what extent energy-saving building methods and / or energy efficiency of buildings are expressed in their market values. Because of lower energy consumption and the associated lower running costs more energy efficient real estate is expected to be preferred by consumers / users and will therefore obtain higher values than less energy-efficient buildings. These higher market prices represent an important market incentive for investment in more energy efficient building methods and utilities. Valuation is an important instrument for the real estate economy. Therefore, first the question is examined whether energy efficiency plays a role in valuation appraisals (and if yes, which). First national and international standards will be examined. Then valuation appraisals, which were used in real estate practice, will be analyzed by means of a content analysis and if necessary a meta analysis. Experts might mention energy efficiency in their appraisals and in the form of anticipated payments consider it in addition to the prescribed elements of the evaluation. (see project details)