Technologies for cities: Making Planning more Inclusive

The mobile apps have made our lives easier and interesting. The technological advancements have surely acted as a positive tool in the advancement of our civilisation. With people (like myself) becoming lazy day by day, technology has made it easier for us to make available all our needs and requirements at our doorstep, be it food or cab, books or cloths.
These technological advancements have brought some very positive changes in the field of planning too, making the process more transparent and interactive. Manchester has an interactive online map which gives the information about the potential development sites in the city. The Greater Manchester open data Infrastructure provides compiled information from water and transport networks to property prices along with the sites suggested by the residents and the authorities. In this way, everyone knows what’s going on in their area. An interactive platform named Howard in London digitises the national and neighbourhood policies allowing the people to click on the map and see the relevant information in one go. In TCPD Goa, there is a database, which contains all the maps with proper land uses marked and plot delineated with the relevant information, which a layman can easily make use of and know information of his area without facing any problems.
There might be several more examples where the use of technology has benefitted the public, but there is still a need of increasing participation of the stakeholders in the process of decision making.
As a resident, I would always want to have a say in any kind of moderations that are made in my society/neighbourhood/city. At the same time I also understand that this process can be very time consuming and complicated for the authorities. Also, to overcome this issue, there can be many ways than one can come up with to make the process inclusive.
Imagine if you saw a plan for a street in your neighbourhood which had elements that you did not feel were appropriate for the people living, you could just take out your cell phone and swipe left to oppose it? Or see carefully a newly design park space in the city and swipe right to support it?
An app or a platform like this, providing local residents with the images of the improvements, changes or proposals to be made with proper questions that would address their problems as well as concerns and changes suggested would not only increase public participation but make the planning process more comprehensive. Though this idea is a far-fetched one but not impossible.

Urbanisation has changed the conditions of any city to a large extent. Increasing population has increased the pressure on both land and resources. Technology can be made useful in utilising and allocating those resources more efficiently and sustainably. Ideas making planning practice better should be thought of which may or may not include the use of technology, but make planning more inclusive.

Shreya Deep
School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi

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