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Abstract

Engineering is currently expanding its conceptual boundaries by accepting the challenge of interdisciplinarity, while often adopting social and biological concepts in developing tools (e.g. evolutionary optimization or interactive autonomous agents) or even world views (e.g. co-evolution, resilience, adaptation). The emerging socio-technical knowledge domain is still very much restricted by partial knowledge associated with the lack of long-term transdisciplinary research effort and the unavailability of robust, integrated tools able to cover both the technical and the socio-economic domains and to act as ‘thinking platforms’ for long-term scenario planning and strategic decision making under (high-order) uncertainties. Here we present an example of a toolkit that attempts to bridge this gap focusing on urban water (UW) systems and their management. The toolkit consists of three tools: the UW Optioneering Tool (UWOT); the UW Agent Based Modelling Platform (UWABM); and the UW System Dynamic Environment (UWSDE). The tools are briefly presented and discussed, focusing on interactions and data flows between them and their typical results are illustrated through a case study example. A further tool (a Cellular Automata Based Urban Growth Model) is currently under development and an early coupling with the other tools is also discussed. It is argued that this type of extended model fusion, beyond what has traditionally been thought of as ‘integrated modelling’ in the engineering domain is a new frontier in the understanding of environmental systems and presents a promising, emerging field in modelling interactions between our societies and cities, and our environment.

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