Dr Wei Yang sets out vision for digital future of spatial planning with Professor Michael Batty
08 Feb 2022
The Digital Task Force for Planning report - A Digital Future for Planning: Spatial Planning Reimagined (Batty & Yang, 2022) is launched online today.
During 2021, as the Co-Chair of the Digital Task Force, Dr Yang worked closely with Professor Michael Batty to lead the Task Force and carried out a comprehensive cross-sector consultation. The big question asked was: “What should be done now to make our world a better place for our future generations through achieving a universal common good”.
The report presents a collective vision for a digital future for planning – not only from planners, but also from a spectrum of like-minded built and natural environment professionals. It also provides a blueprint for a digitally enabled spatial planning, which presents powerful leverage to deliver zero-carbon, environmental net gain, levelling up, and other ambitious social and economic goals.
In light of the transition to a circular economy and based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s focus on redesigning systems, the report proposes a transformative digitalisation of spatial planning – a people-centric process which is enabled by digital technologies.
The report sets out eight key recommendations to government calling for investment in the digital transformation of the profession to maximise its capacity to advance sustainable development goals for all, as well as elevating spatial planning advice and expertise to the heart of public policy and decision-making at both national and local levels.
One of the key recommendations of the report is to create a cyclic planning system based on two interrelated loops – an Evidence Analytics Loop which is about the science of systems and a Decision-Making Loop which involves legislative procedures.
To unlock the full potential of the planning profession, the report also urges the need to develop a digitally enabled planning profession – a profession that can coordinate the best knowledge and advance the most appropriate digital tools and technologies from related disciplines so that we can achieve a shared vision and create a better future for everyone.
Outlining her vision for the future and the opportunities digital transformation of the sector will bring, Dr Wei Yang said:“The world deserves a reimagined planning profession in the digital era. It will generate an invigorated community approach, more interesting, visual and accessible planning, much speeded-up planning processes, saving costs, increasing efficiency and productivity, as well as a unified approach to information management.
“It is also vital that we recognise spatial planning as an important applied science discipline, which interconnects social, environmental, and behavioural science. Our report elaborates that if spatial planning can be invested as an applied science discipline of national significance, enormous potentials of it can be unlocked.
“We welcome the Levelling Up White Paper (DLUHC, 2022) published last week and our report supports the delivery of levelling up and the complete ‘system change’ through the digital transformation of planning. I believe digitally enabled spatial planning should have the power to break departmental and professional silos. It can be a transformative solution to coordinate the efforts from all good forces to achieve a universal common good.
“In fact, our study is not about the planning profession itself. It is about reinvigorating the profession, about recreating a reimagined planning profession – a profession that can coordinate the best knowledge and advance the most appropriate digital tools and technologies from related disciplines so that we can achieve a shared vision and to create a better future for everyone.”