Royal Institute of British Architects and Central St Martins, University of the Arts London
Emilia Plotka, Royal Institute of British Architects
Geoffery Makstutis, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
A Digitised Planning System: Scoping Study
This project was a scoping study, which sought to inform the design of a Digitised Planning System (DPS), evaluating how to extend the economic, social and environmental benefits of ‘big data’ and new technology into planning and design. The ultimate goal was a tool that will revolutionise architectural and urban design processes. However, the potential benefits of a DPS would extend to the general public and creative practitioners across London and beyond.
As a result of this study, the project team:
- Identified current datasets available and the need for new ones.
- Defined common data platforms and formats to promote interoperability and access
- Identified key stakeholders (public, private, professional, institutional, etc.)
- Defined methodologies for engaging stakeholders in defining needs/expectations
- Identified potential partners for further development
- Defined initial stakeholder evaluation points and developed an open feedback model.
The study also helped us make a number of important observations which will help in optimising the design of a Digitised Planning System. These included:
- Developing a digital platform for the planning system would be of use to all planners and design practitioners.
- Engaging the public in the planning system will remain an issue, even if a digital planning platform is developed. For this reason it will be necessary to make use of other tools and processes to engage members of the public with the local community, such as the considered use of social media to disseminate information and collect feedback, and non-digital engagement to ensure broad social inclusion.
- The development and implementation of a digital planning system will rely as much on changing perception and practice within the planning system, as it will on technology. The planning process will need to be re-fashioned to become positive and developmental, rather than predicated on objection and denial. A new approach will also be needed to open access to submitted data, which may require changes to legislation and requirements for the planning process.
- A digital planning system must be future-proofed in order to ensure that users can see the benefit of the requisite expense in development. Therefore the system must allow for extensibility; both in terms of data input/acquisition and output. The potential for monetising planning data (therefore supporting the ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure) can be achieved through allowing third-party developer access to data