‘Transforming the digital architecture of planning’ is a new digital planning software white paper produced collaboratively by Connected Places Catapult’s Built Environment and Data Science teams.
Published on 30 April, the report explores the architecture of digital planning software that has begun to be utilised across the UK in recent years, with the growth of the PlanTech industry. ‘Transforming the digital architecture of planning’ looks under the bonnet of the problems with the existing digital planning software market, recognises a range of emerging alternatives and sets out a vision and principles for the architecture of a truly future proof digital planning system. The white paper identifies six fundamental principles of how digital planning software needs to be designed, developed and built in order to deliver planning software that can help planners do their jobs better.
They are as follows:
1. Moving from data not documents – Adapting to the processing of planning applications as structured data is central to creating an ecosystem for innovation.
2. Applying common data schemas – When all modules in a system adopt the same data schemas, the barriers to data sharing are significantly reduced.
3. Using open and standardised APIs – APIs create an environment fertile for innovation, lower barriers for entry and fostering a spirit of collaboration.
4. Ensuring modularity and unbundling – The modular approach reduces the complexity of large, monolithic systems from the software development perspective.
5. Maintaining privacy security and fairness – Adhering to GDPR’s ‘Privacy by Design’ philosophy and maintaining a high level of security when building and implementing software solutions will create a more trustworthy and robust system.
6. User-centric ease of use – Web-based planning tools would facilitate ease of use as they will likely reduce IT problems with software and promote remote working
7. Transforming the digital architecture of planning – Current failings to future success
The report also looks to central government, local authorities, the PlanTech community and legacy digital planning software providers to work towards delivering planning software that responds to current software failings.
Talking about the current state of the market, Kate Taylor, Connected Places Catapult’s (CPC) Digital Planning Team said: “The market for public sector digital planning currently consists of a small number of suppliers serving most of the local planning authorities and we believe that there is an opportunity to broaden this supply base to drive innovation.”
Justin Kliger, Senior Architectural Urbanist at CPC said: “This white paper is not intended as an overnight solution to the challenges faced by the planning industry. Nor is it a prediction for the future of the planning software landscape. Our aim is to illustrate these challenges and present a possible pathway to a future all-digital planning software landscape.”
CPC Data Scientist Isaac Squires: “Often the barrier to adoption of new, innovative, data-driven technologies is that the users don’t want it, however, this is not the case of digital planning. The technological fixes are not complex and many already exist across a number of other digital sectors. this report suggests possible solutions.”
By drawing on these principles in the scoping, funding and delivery of new digital planning software, CPC’s Built Environment team is certain the industry will move toward a planning system that will be better equipped to deliver new homes, services and urban spaces more efficiently and effectively.
Download the report below