This is a parallel development track, which explores the use of ‘informatics’ (IT plus knowledge management) to enable inter-connected thinking.  It’s clear that informatics has huge potential as a catalyst for social learning anb ‘urban intelligence’. We have developed two working software prototypes since 2011.

One is the ‘Synergy Forum’, an innovative virtual round table, with potential to revolutionize meetings and dialogues on any kind of complex problem.

Synergy Forum phase_2_concept

This aims to enable structured dialogue for social collaboration and learning on the synergistic model ( This is designed for discussions on complex problems, using futures and foresight methods, where collaboration is the best way forward. The Synergy Forum creates a round table meeting in virtual space: not to replace the human factor, but to extend it for more effective results. We can map the patterns of agreement, analyse key words, vote on common questions, and find new collaborators and synergies in a larger Forum.  The prototype was designed by Joe Ravetz, built by Hedtek, using a ‘text-mining’ module courtesy of NACTEM: all sponsored by a combination of several EPSRC project grants.

Another is the ‘Local Forum’,  based on the award-winning ‘Tellus’ platform –

Local Forum – Tellus

The Local Forum enables multi-lateral dialogue between stakeholders with local interests:  Currently as an early ‘proof of concept’ prototype, this brings together community discussion forums with google maps platform, and standard geo-spatial data, all based on the Tellus social/spatial technology. With this, local communities can better organize neighbourhood initiatives, plans, projects or networks: policy-makers and service providers can consult on local needs and wishes, using spatial overlays in combination with locally based dialogue (spatial data is currently based on Greater Manchester, to be extended to the whole UK).  The basis is the GIS platform as in Tellus: the prototype was developed by Dr Kai Zhou on a design by Joe Ravetz, with the aid of the EPSRC-funded SUREGEN project.

Previously we worked in the development team for the i-Know EU-funded platform for horizon scanning and Grand Challenge thinking, ( ): with continuing collaboration through   From 2003-2007, we were in the development team which produced the award-winning REAP software

Previously Joe Ravetz was PI for the EPSRC funded ‘Regional Interactive Sustainability Atlas’, 1999-2002.  This provided (in DVD format) a combination of multi-layer GIS, an interactive scenario model adapted from the Vancouver-based Metroquest ( and a ‘time-machine’ scenario visualization tool for 2050. A follow-on project ‘Eco-region NW’ completed in 2007 is online (but currently without interactive functions):

Ongoing and future research interests: