Technology and Planning

An article in the August edition of The Planner carried short articles about various technologies currently utilised by the planning profession which have the potential to offer greater advantages to those involved in planning.  Some of those articles are summarised below.

VIRTUAL REALITY – VR has great potential and multiple applications for planning and planners and is capable of transforming the way built environments are designed and engaged with by planners, elected representatives and the public.  Its immersive experience allows a more complete interaction with interventions in the built environment and can highlight the parts of a proposal for instance that will be ‘invisible’ from the public domain.  It is likely to be of greatest impact to those not from a built environment profession who may otherwise struggle to read a set of plans.

BLOCKCHAIN – Created as a way to decentralise the banking industry after the financial crisis it uses cryptography to create a distributed system with “trust built in”, where everyone has a tamper-proof record of the data in question.  It is described as immutable, globally accessible and based in near-real time.  The most (in)famous manifestation (depending on your personal point of view) is Bitcoin but in the planning profession land ownership, due diligence, lease completion and asset management could all be streamlined and secured on the blockchain.

BIG DATA – Whilst it is often seen as something new, big data has been around for centuries, albeit it wasn’t always as big as it is now.  Big data in the form of detailed demographic distribution can be used to influence planning, for instance the location of public bike sharing docks.  Big data could also help plan acceptable locations for commercial leisure venues or for specialised forms of residential accommodation for instance.