August 1, 2018
#citizenengagement    #urbanplanning   #dashboard   #projectmanagement   #data    #business

Digitalised urban planning: A tool that promises efficient citizen outreach and stakeholder communication


Today’s urban planning processes are characterised by the bottom-up approach; society creates the need and demand, in the middle we have the developers and key agencies; and on the top - planning authorities, cities and municipalities. What is important to understand is that this threefold is only the surface. There are a greater number of stakeholders that can be involved in a single planning project: grid and energy providers, variety of departments, associations and commissions... Some have key roles and direct responsibilities, others have influence on outcomes. The challenge then appears to be in the project management and in the process of integrating and monitoring all relevant information.

In a traditional way, the responsibilities would be delegated as follows:

Based on Urban Learning EU Toolbox

What happens to this in the smart city context?

In smart cities, besides stakeholder coordination, the challenge of data management enters the scene. We are talking about the massive amounts of data produced by sensors within the IoT network that keeps exponentially growing. The technologies that are being developed for the smart city have created 90% of the data in the world in the last two years alone. Most of it remains in silos, but city planners could benefit a lot from this data and better cater the needs of citizens. Moreover, the problem of silos exists also in inter-stakeholder communication, when the data is not being exchanged and transmitted cohesively.

One of the practices used in urban planning to outreach communities is having info-meetings, polling people, or conducting questionnaires. Are these tools efficient in the era of digitalisation? Can cities still both use old-school methods and claim themselves to be “smart”? Do these techniques allow diversity to be reached? My answer, not really. Current practices are waiting for a change, or disruption. My solution - a single user interface.

The conversation about interfaces and platforms has been around for a while in the urban planning community. As it is brilliantly conveyed by David Wallerstein in Scientific America, cities and decision-makers should consider “the fundamental “operating system” by which they make decisions, allocate resources, engage the private sector, evaluate progress, and understand the city that they govern.” In one of our previous blogs, Roope Mokka, founder of Demos Helsinki — the only international think tank in Finland — described a new future of cities as “the governance of platforms, with platforms, by platforms”, and these are the platforms that lay a foundation for the public-private partnership.

How to enhance the level of trust, transparency and communication among stakeholders in project management:

Imagine a dashboard in which you could access all relevant analytics, visualised data and communicate with stakeholders in real time. Imagine a dashboard that, in addition to all the features listed above, would also allow you to connect with residents and receive their insights. A dashboard that would enable you to build comprehensive and far-sighted strategies and also save time and resources. In this blog, I would like to touch upon some of the features of a digitalised project management and how they can benefit urban planning:

Two-way communication:
Two-way communication secures high-level of participation and acceptance of urban planning projects by the public. By interacting with citizens and designing surveys and zip code targeted questionnaires, you receive feedback in real time from relevant people. Reviewing residents’ insights will also enable a stakeholder to identify new project opportunities.

Citizen engagement: Expanding audience reach
With a specifically designed citizen engagement tool, you will be able to gain up to 5x the audience than with typical participatory tools; reach wider segments, including younger age cohorts. Gain insights of your audience, like living conditions, the size of a household, means of transportation to dissect areas’ dynamics.

Stakeholders: Holistic Interactive and data-driven project management
The digitalisation of the construction sector can essentially reduce risks and expenses, and assess lifecycle. At all stages of a project's implementation, actions taken at a team level by different stakeholders must be able to be monitored and reported on. Providing a collaborative and transparent environment enables finding innovative solutions to an urban planning project.Within one dashboard, you will be able to connect with all the stakeholders engaged in your project with the advantage of one single platform. Ping them through real-time push notifications. Interact with project stakeholders by designing surveys and getting live responses. Cut time and save resources simply by filtering and exporting from your account.

To learn more about citizen engagement, or the ways you can digitise your project management, get in touch with us, or request a demo.

Polina zyaparova
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