On the 17th of May 2017 we kicked off our ‘Planning for the Smarter City’ series with our first seminar, on Planning, Technology and Innovation, kindly hosted by Space Syntax.
The series as a whole will look into the evolution of what we today call ‘smart cities’ and will explore the impact that advancements in technology, data and digital services has had on our industry. We will hear from a wide range of speakers over the course of the season, from academics to practitioners and from start-ups to corporate companies and from public to private sector.
The first seminar covered digital services and engagement; exploring how technology has given birth to new techniques and methodologies that are revolutionising our relationship with the built environment.
Our first speaker of the evening was Tim Stonor from Space Syntax, who is also a trustee of Design Council Cabe. Space Syntax analyses the science of human behaviour and uses this methodology to improve, extend and create places that optimise the movement of people. Tim gave an overview of the work Space Syntax have been involved in which notably includes the redevelopment of Trafalgar Square including a major new staircase and the removal of a listed wall that they made a compelling case for.
Daniel Mohammed CEO of Urban Intelligence developed a desktop GIS-based software that created a one-stop-shop for planning policy. The program his team developed, named ‘Howard’ after Ebeneezer Howard, creating a simplified search engine for planning policy to enable practitioners to quickly understand site constraints and parameters. The team are continuing to explore the use of this technology to revolutionise the way we research sites.
Michelle Warbis (who has recently made the move from the GLA to Future Cities Catapult) is a leading community engagement specialist, her research and work covers public participation. She spoke about the ways we can use technology and smartphones to engage with local communities and spark interest in the planning system. This included a ‘Tinder’ for development ideas and a video game that made planning fun for younger members of the community.
The presentations were followed by a discussion on how we can embrace science and technology in order to work smarter and more efficiently. The event was well attended by over 40 people across a range of built environment disciplines and was followed by drinks, nibbles and networking, kindly provided by the host.
The next Planning for the Smarter City event will be held on the 24th of July 2017 and is being hosted by ARUP. Our second seminar will further investigate the use of data and how we are currently using this to design smarter cities. Our speaker line-up includes, ARUP, TfL and the GLA (see our events page for more details). We look forward to welcoming you to future seminars and hope you will get involved in current discussions and debates on this topic.