An entity-relationship model of the flow of waste and resources in city-regions: Improving knowledge management for the circular economy
Journal article, 2021
Waste and resources management is one of the domains where urban and regional planning can transition towards a Circular Economy, thus slowing environmental degradation. Improving waste and resources management in cities requires an adequate understanding of multiple systems and how they interact. New technologies contribute to improve waste management and resource efficiency, but knowledge silos hinder the possibility of delivering sound holistic solutions. Furthermore, lack of compatibility between data formats and diverse definitions of the same concept reduces information exchange across different urban domains. This paper addresses the challenge of organising and standardising information about waste and resources management in city regions. Given the amount and variety of data constantly captured, data models and standards are a crucial element of Industry 4.0. The paper proposes an Entity-Relationship Model to harmonise definitions and integrate information on waste and resources management. Furthermore, it helps to formalise the components of the system and their relationships. Semi-structured interviews with government officials, mobile app developers and academics provided insights into the specific system and endorsed the model. Finally, the paper illustrates the translation of the ERM into a relational database schema and instantiates Waste Management and industrial Symbiosis cases in Buenos Aires (ARG) and Helsingborg (SWE) to validate its general applicability. The data model for the Circular Flow of Waste and Resources presented here enhances traditional waste management perspectives by introducing Circular Economy strategies and spatial variables in the model. Thus, this research represents a step towards unlocking the true potential of Industry 4.0.