The concept of territory as a cornerstone of territorial intelligence

Much research within the ThéMA laboratory has concentrated on defining territory by a systemic approach. The work done has already meant that sound foundations have been laid especially by identifying the structural and functional components of the territorial system. Starting from these systemic foundations, we endeavour to understand how regulation, by analogy with the idea of metabolism, can be conducted by means of information and its transmission. Information is required for developing knowledge that drives decision making that prevails over change. The 'field' of application for validating this theory rests especially on development of accounting and analysis of energy savings on territorial scale (3x20 platform).

Strain on territories in a context of governance
The quality of governance is dependent on the ability of territorial experts to fit in with 'democratic' processes proposed nowadays and to answer the scientific questions asked of them. As such the Territorial Intelligence team's research is part of a perspective of a response to societal demand that finds difficulty in expressing itself. Governance reflects a situation whereby a limit to the exercise of power is observed and power must be shared and negotiated. In particular, the development of cross-cutting and no longer sector-based policies requires forms of cooperation among actors often involving various state services. The effectiveness of governance, that is the regulation of the territorial system, therefore requires information sharing, developed collectively with experts and appropriated by all participants (institutions and citizens) and the definition of common and public objectives.

Knowledge as the foundation course of governance
Identifying modes of appropriating and disseminating knowledge and the improvement of them are also a major line of our research work in that they condition the understanding of the approaches and systems proposed, that is, our ability to come up with truly effective solutions for sharing knowledge, for participation and consequently for territorial governance. This dimension rests on the many works developed in cognitive sciences and will be enhanced by spatio-temporal approaches specific to our geographical discipline. This approach to knowledge will enable us in particular to define and vary the concept of observation.

Socio-cognitive approaches are an essential side of territorial intelligence. The acquisition of knowledge about the territory, which is the primary objective of Territorial Intelligence, is like a learning operation, that is, a change in the ability to think, represent and construct an object of study under the effect of data. Research in cognitive sciences and computer sciences highlights the fact that knowledge is the outcome not just of data external to the learner but also of tools and information, notably ones concerned with memory and of interactions with the environment. It therefore seems essential to understand how knowledge and particularly territorial knowledge is acquired, both individually and collectively, in order to improve the tools for passing on the same knowledge. Retroactively, we seek a better grasp of the meaning of collective representations underpinning the creation of data and territorial indicators. This understanding determines the effectiveness of tools of territorial intelligence and promotes fresh approaches to governance.

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