The Increasing Role of Technology in Urban Planning

 In #Design+Development

Technology in urban planning

Urban planners develop open land and existing areas of a city. To develop land, urban planners utilize goal settings, data collection, analysis, forecasting, and consultation. Technology becomes increasingly important in urban planning as the consequences of city development, as well as the and ongoing changes, need to be projected. 

Today, 72 percent of Europeans live in cities. In 2050, it is expected that this number will increase to 80 percent. Cities are the center of civilizations and powerhouses of economic growth and innovation. However, urban planning faces challenges as cities are transforming into larger regions. One way to address these challenges is to embrace new technology trends that could help urban planners to help improve life quality in cities.

Technology and society

Today, technology is penetrating daily life more and more. For this reason, lifestyles and work patterns are changing significantly. In fact, technology is reshaping the way people live. The best examples are Airbnb and Uber which have re-structured and disrupted traditional business models. 

People are using technology such as dapps and to do list apps on a daily basis. Nobody could imagine leaving their home without their mobile phone.

As the number of people working and living in cities is increasing, resources need to be used more efficiently. Technology helps citizens and urban planners to use capacities and resources in a smarter way. 

Entering a new urban era

The arrival of the automobile required big readjustments in urban design and resulted in an era of central business districts, sprawling suburbs, and big ring roads. However, these factors are posing major challenges to the urban design process. 

Today, we are again entering a new urban era. This transition is driven by new inventions in technology and new concepts such as “Smart City” and “Industry 4.0”. These concepts promise growth and progress through technology use. 

How technology can help in the urban design process

Technology and society

Technology has already been proven to assist in the urban planning process. Through technology, urban planning teams can increase their productivity and help citizens to get more involved in the urban design process. 

Further challenges of cities that urban planners have to deal with are rapid growth, climate change, transportation and expanding of urban lines. It is, therefore, crucial to improving urban planning to deploy resources and capacities better. Some of those technologies are the following:

Technologies deployed in the urban design process

Urban planners can utilize technology to improve their urban planning process and create a better city region for people to live and work. 

  • Cloud Technology: With cloud technology, urban planners can create a database to receive details of certain urban areas. Moreover, cloud technology can help in planning larger infrastructure projects.
  • Internet: Through the internet, urban planners can design cities that are remote worker-friendly. This results in urban concepts with less traffic congestion and better transport options.
  • Internet of things: Many of the basic IoT tools are already in use. Those include smart streetlights that switch off automatically and save energy. Urban planners can build on those solutions and develop concepts that enhance the urban infrastructure. 
  • Planning apps: Urban planners can use modern technologies as well as open data to develop inclusive and vibrant spaces for residents and businesses. Planning tools such as “National Equity Atlas” and “Metro Pulse” assist in the urban design process and help to create areas that the inhabitants of a city need. 
  • Virtual Reality: Virtual reality is also helpful in simulating scenarios to model urban environments in 3D. Through the use of advanced visualization techniques, urban planners can visualize different urban areas. In this way, potential environmental impacts can be projected. This leads to better evaluations and decisions. 

Why technology should focus on people and citizens

Building greener cities through technology

According to experts, new technologies can drive the involvement of local residents in the development of urban areas. A large number of people have already shown significant interest in getting more involved in urban planning decisions. Thus, new city concepts and designs should not focus too much on technology. Moreover, technology should strengthen the position of the residents and help to build an infrastructure for storing data and allowing access. This is crucial when establishing voting systems or involving the local residents in the design and development of new urban areas. Perhaps it could work with deploying blockchain technology as this is still a very new concept and the potential applications in urban planning are still to be investigated.  

Planning intelligent communities

Through the use of technology, urban planners can implement self-management practices to build smarter cities and focus more on developing communities and neighborhoods. In this way, cities become financially more sustainable, self-sufficient and provide more green space. These examples show that technology can be used to create intelligent city designs and to achieve a higher degree of collaboration among residents and communities. 

The key points

Technology is crucial in the urban design process. If used in the right way, urban planners can address and solve the current urban challenges. Moreover, technology will help urban planners to focus more on designing communities and thus achieve a higher degree of self-sufficiency in the city. Lastly, technology is deployed properly when it focuses on people and local residents. In this way, citizens can get more involved in the urban design process and contribute positively to building sustainable and green cities. 




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