PlanTech; the coming together of Town Planning and Technology to create a more efficient, intelligent and transparent planning system for smarter and more sustainable cities. The term ‘PlanTech’ isn’t new, neither is technology and the use of data within the planning profession. However, the past year has witnessed a new surge in PlanTech initiatives in the UK and what some are terming, the ‘PlanTech Revolution’.
Iceni’s interest in the sector has found us progressively immersing ourselves in the world of digitalisation; both to keep at the forefront of emerging technology but also to analyse developing trends. This month alone, Iceni has attended the world’s largest property technology conference (Future:PropTech), whilst last week I spoke at the Nordregio research centre in Stockholm on the topic of the digitalisation of planning.
Whilst each has had their own focus and target audience, it is increasingly apparent that several key themes and barriers run throughout the digitalisation of the property sector. I believe acknowledging these is fundamental to PlanTech’s success in the UK and are important considerations, whether you work within a Local Authority, as part of a start-up or as a developer.
We need to collaborate with one another, be it between Local Authorities, private sector and public sector, UK to Denmark. We need to communicate and learn from others and ensure that the progression isn’t piecemeal; both geographically and across the planning process as a whole.
For PlanTech to achieve what it intends to we need to learn to trust data and the AI and modelling systems that emerge. Fundamentally, data needs to be accurate. Who takes ownership of this data needs to be established along with its legal implications.
Transparency and clarity in the planning system shouldn’t be feared and the release of data should be encouraged. We need to embrace the idea that open data and an open system could create time and cost savings, in addition to creating better and smarter places. A fundamental change in the planning system to better suit technology should not be discounted.
A targeted approach can help to ensure policy and systems do not attempt to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. We need to look at why we are digitalising the planning system and for whom.
If all parties can cooperate and lead the change of culture toward open data and a transparent system then we’ll open the door a little wider to the PlanTech Revolution. Recent progress in the PlanTech sector should be celebrated, but together we can bring the digitalisation of the planning system to new levels.
Iceni are passionate about helping and contributing to the PlanTech Revolution. If you would like to know more about PlanTech or are a start-up wishing to collaborate, please get in touch with our Iceni Future’s Sector (firstname.lastname@example.org).