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INDICATE – Indicator-based Interactive Decision Support and Information Exchange

INDICATE – Indicator-based Interactive Decision Support and Information Exchange


Client: European Commission

Project Date: 2013-2016

Project Website:



The INDICATE (Indicator-based Interactive Decision Support and Information Exchange) platform for smart cities is an innovative city-wide decision support system which supports stakeholders in the transition towards smart cities by providing an interactive decision support tool for urban planning and design. The tool will assess the interactions between urban objects and spaces, buildings, the electricity grid, renewable technologies and information and communications technology (ICT) and recommend options for optimising infrastructure, installing technology, and providing cost-effective utility services.


To create a ‘Smart Economy’, integrated smart urban planning tools including architectural master planning and detailed energy optimisation and environmental analysis will be required. If this is not addressed, it may not be possible to deliver the Millennium Development Goals as agreed by each of the UN member states. INDICATE addresses these issues through the development of a decision support tool that is used in all stages of urban development of a city. The tool can be used to:

  • Inform master planning at early stages of urban development;
  • Assist with decision-making in respect to best technologies to integrate and their economic and environmental impact to the urban environment; and
  • Optimise existing Smart Technologies to further reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.


In the context of an increasingly global economic system based on knowledge and innovation, there has been a widespread trend of ‘smart’ benchmarking and evidence-based policy adjustment amongst public and private bodies. Benchmarking, which employs indicators to identify key patterns and trends to assess and compare performance relative to the local, regional, national and international context, allows policymakers to understand where improvements are needed and observe how best practices elsewhere can be transferred and implemented.


Introduction to INDICATE Solution

The INDICATE tool seeks to support urban planning and design decision making in an age of increasing demands and complexity. The tool provides dynamic assessment of the interactions between buildings, energy distribution grids, renewable technologies, and ICT to provide recommendations regarding suitable technologies to: optimum building retrofit; highlight infrastructure that requires improvement to enable local energy balancing; and identify utility services that offer the best financial return. To understand how the decisions made will affect the overall urban environment, a set of sustainable urban indicators have been developed to measure effects from any changes made to buildings, infrastructure, or energy related technology. The resulting tool  supports a holistic approach to the city and will allow decision makers, planners and urban designers to:

  • PLAN using an energy-based decision support tool that utilises dynamic simulation & takes into account buildings & occupants, the urban environment & energy distribution grids.
  • REDUCE energy consumption & CO2 emissions by indicating the impact of energy conservation measures via dynamic simulation modelling.
  • INTEGRATE new technologies & services to manage supply & demand via dynamic simulation modelling, GIS & 3D urban modelling.
  • OPTIMISE existing systems to enable local balancing through demand response & tariff analysis, via dynamic simulation modelling of the interactions between buildings & their occupants, installed systems & energy distribution grids in the urban environment.

The INDICATE tool has been designed to operate any stage of development; it can be used in a city where the buildings and their urban environment are at an early stage of development or redevelopment, or to optimise existing smart grid infrastructure or efficient technologies where they have already been installed.

To enable this level of analysis, the INDICATE tool brings together a number of components including: simulation software developed in this project, the IES <Virtual Environment>, 3D urban CAD tools, the Esri ‘CityEngine’ software, and a suite of energy-related sustainable urban indicators; to create a Virtual City Model (VCM) ready for simulation. The VCM is fed with real urban data and processes this through the components outlined to assess the impact of any proposed changes to technologies, individual buildings, or larger changes at a district level.



Prototype Tool – Overview

The INDICATE prototype developed through this project has resulted in a fully-functioning tool that facilitates the following:

  • The creation of an interactive 3D model of an urban area that includes buildings with detailed characteristics such as building geometry, building use, number of floors, number and location of windows, and of course energy use.
  • Provides a Common City Index with 30 indicators (8 Carbon Reduction, 14 Energy Efficiency, and 8 Cost Reduction) presenting measures in relation to energy, and quantifying the impact of various interventions (e.g. the provision of PV panels, thermal insulation, etc.)
  • Presents an interactive dashboard that can be configured to provide specific feedback in relation to selected indicators or particular project/user needs.
  • Provides an Inspector function to examine various properties of a selected building, or selection of buildings, including energy usage, building use, number of floors etc.
  • Provides the facility to create new scenes to allow the user to focus on certain elements or buildings and thus isolate specific objects for investigate or modification as part of an energy analysis exercise.
  • Carries out simulations to reflect modifications or interventions using both benchmark or simulation data.



Story Map Outlining Key Functions

A Story Map has been prepared to outline the main development of the project and to present some of the key functions using the pilot site in Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland as an example. The Story Map also presents a number of different scenarios to illustrate a how the tool might be used to investigate different energy interventions within Dundalk.

Click on this link below to see the INDICATE Story Map. Once you reach the overview page, click ‘View Application’ to open the Story Map. Please note that the tool shown in this Story Map is an Esri CityEngine INDICATE prototype.  It should also be noted that this Story Map is based on data available up to 2016, and while every effort and due care was taken to provide accurate information and data to the project, there may be anomalies in some instances, which Louth County Council is not accountable for.




Web Scene Providing an Interactive Version of the INDICATE prototype tool

In addition to the Story Map a Web Scene has been created to offer users the opportunity to interact with the INDICATE prototype tool through a number of scenarios related to energy efficiency interventions in the Dundalk pilot site. While this Web Scene has limited functionality it will provide the user with a good sense of the tool and its capabilities.

Click on this link below to see the INDICATE Web Scene. Once you reach the overview page, click ‘Open in Scene Viewer’ to use the Web Scene.  Please note that the tool shown in this Web Scene is an Esri CityEngine INDICATE prototype. It should also be noted that this Story Map is based on data available up to 2016, and while every effort and due care was taken to provide accurate information and data to the project, there may be anomalies in some instances, which Louth County Council is not accountable for.




Sustainable Urban Indicators

A key part of the INDICATE project involved the development of a suite of Sustainable Urban Indicators (SUI) to provide metrics in relation to energy use in the urban environment, and to quantify current conditions along with the impact of proposed interventions as part of the operation of the INDICATE tool. 30 key SUIs were selected over three categories including: 8 Carbon Reduction indicators; 14 Energy Efficiency indicators; and 8 Cost Reduction indicators.

As part of the INDICATE project, a website was created ( to provide details regarding the selected SUIs and to illustrate how these indicators are employed in the INDICATE tool.




The website also presents a video depicting a scenario that focuses on the feasibility of establishing an urban renewable solar photovoltaic (or ‘PV’) energy system. This video also demonstrates how the SUIs are utilised within the tool to inform the decision making process.


INDICATE Scenario: Establishing an Urban PV system

The scenario shows how the INDICATE tool will calculate the appropriate urban roof area which could support the deployment of a solar PV system. The feasibility of installing renewable energy infrastructure is determined by analysing the Dynamic Simulation result, which defines the square meter roof area suitable for PV. Key indicators for this exercise include:

  • Roof Space Available for Solar PV
  • Special Heritage Status
  • Energy Consumption by Type
  • Building stock energy efficiency

Calculating available roof space

The scenario demonstrates various tools such as the ‘Inspector’ and ‘Selection Tool’ are used to determine how there is 648 square metres potential roof area available for solar PV on the selected residential buildings in this example.




Displaying building status

This scenario also illustrates other aspects of the tool such as how the ‘Heritage Status’ of the selected buildings can be displayed, to determine if they have a planning designation which forbids deploying solar PV panels on the structure. In this example 61 buildings in the group are recognised as having ‘special heritage status’.




Identifying target areas

The feasibility of installing renewable energy infrastructure, can be explored by selecting specific buildings determined to have the appropriate roof space in the model i.e. energy received annually by the roof space must exceed hundred kilowatt hour per meter squared.


Selected appropriate technology

The appropriate technology application is selected from the Inspector and this intervention is then modelled on the pre-selected appropriate buildings in the scene and the simulated impact is reflected on the dashboard. By selecting two kilowatt hour PV the results of the simulation are compared with the base levels which are illustrated on the dashboard, where the total potential generating capacity of the appropriate roof space can be calculated in terms of kilowatt hours. The contrast between the baseline and the simulation data is used to explore the cost benefit of the solar PV energy system. Using the results from the tool as an indicator of energy savings, will enable the calculation of the kilowatt hour costing and compare it to the investment required.


Tutorial Videos

The following tutorial videos were prepared to demonstrate some key functions within the prototype INDICATE tool as part of the user testing phase. As such they not represent the finished tool but nevertheless will provide a good overview to key aspects of the tool.

***Please note that the tool shown in these videos is an Esri CityEngine INDICATE prototype.


INDICATE – Instructional Video 01 – Basic navigation, track rotate, zoom, object section, and working with layers in the scene


INDICATE-Instructional Video 02 – Looks at the Inspector function and outlines how to use this function to examine various characteristics of a selected building including energy usage, building use, number of floors etc.


INDICATE-Instructional Video 03 – Looks at the INDICATE dashboard and how to configure the dashboard to suit a particular project or specific needs.


INDICATE-Instructional Video 04 – Explains how to copy elements, such as building or collection of buildings, into a new scene within INDICATE. This allows the user to focus on these elements, by turning off any adjacent objects, and investigating or modifying the objects as part of an energy analysis exercise.


INDICATE-Instructional Video 05 – Discusses the Common City Index and the 30 indicators (8 Carbon Reduction, 14 Energy Efficiency, and 8 Cost Reduction) at the heart of the INDICATE tool. It shows how users can select specific indicators that are most relevant to the project at hand.


INDICATE-Instructional Video 06 – Demonstrates how to carry out a simulation with the INDICATE tool and explains how both benchmark data and simulation data is used.


Next Steps

The EU funded phase of INDICATE project is complete and the post-project exploitation phase has now begun. This will involve further development of the prototype towards a fully-functioning and marketable tool.

When finished, it is hoped that INDICATE can contribute to the creation of more sustainable and energy efficient communities, and help support Irish and European efforts to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency. To achieve the ambitious targets set by the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 20%, to increase renewable energy production to 20% of consumption or more, and to achieve an overall energy savings of at least 20%, integrated and holistic planning and urban design approaches must be adopted as a matter of urgency.


Renewable energy, Energy Management, Energy Planning, Sustainable Development
April 14, 2016