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Task force launched for digital planning

Words: Laura Edgar
Digital / Shutterstock_518160529

An independent panel has been launched with the intention to promote an integrated digitally informed approach of town and country planning.

The Digital Task Force for Planning is made up of ‘thought leaders’ relating to planning and digital technology. It will be chaired by professor Michael Batty FRTPI, chairman of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at the Bartlett School, University College London (UCL). Dr Wei Yang FRTPI, president of the RTPI, is the co-chair.

The members of the Task Force are:

  • Chair: Michael Batty CBE FRS FBA FAcSS FRTPI, Bartlett professor of Planning, University College London, and chair, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.
  • Co-chair: Wei Yang FAcSS FRTPI, 2021 RTPi president and chair, Wei Yang & Partners.
  • Sir Alan Wilson FRS FBA FAcSS, director of special projects, The Alan Turing Institute, and honorary professor, University College London.
  • Janice Morphet FAcSS FRTPI, visiting professor in the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London.
  • Bridget Rosewell CBE FAcSS FICE, commissioner for the National Infrastructure Commission, and chair of the Independent Review into Planning Appeal Inquiries.
  • Cecilia Wong FAcSS FRTPI, professor of spatial planning and director of the Spatial Policy & Analysis Lab at the University of Manchester, chair of the UK 2021 Research Excellence Framework’s ‘Architecture, Built Environment and Planning’ sub-panel.
  • Kirsty Macari MRTPI AoU, lecturer in Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Dundee, member of the RTPI General Assembly, Scottish Executive Committee.
  • Mark Tewdwr-Jones FAcSS FRTPI, Bartlett professor of Cities and Regions, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London.
  • Volker Buscher, director, chief data officer at ARUP. Member of the Smart London Board and the Smart Cities Forum.
  • Jeremy Morley, chief geospatial scientist, Ordnance Survey.

The task force intends to examine how the planning profession and its education can embrace the digital revolution in a “more thorough and proactive way to empower planners with new skills to tackle the grand challenges of our times for public interest”. It plans to deliver a roadmap for the future of planning in the digital domain within an initial one-year timescale.

Batty, the 2016 RTPI gold medallist, said: “Computers are universal machines and can be used in all areas of social and scientific decision-making. The planning profession needs to engage deeply with new digital technologies that are changing not only how we think about our cities and regions and their futures but also how computers themselves are changing the very cities that we wish to plan for through automation.

“The mission of the digital task force is to raise awareness, promote new skills, and ensure greater urban sustainability in the digital age.”

Yang added: "The world needs a modernised, strengthened planning profession able to proactively address the challenges of the 21st century.  

“Clearly the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the profession. At this crucial turning point, we need to examine some fundamental questions – how can digital technology and the use of data empower a better evidence-based plan-making and placemaking process? What are the skills we need and how do we unlock the full potential of the planning profession in the digital era?

“We look forward to speaking with a broad range of stakeholders to draw up a roadmap for the future of the planning profession.”

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