IT Infrastructure for Supporting Multidisciplinary Urban Planning

Fernando, T ORCID:, Aouad, GF, Fu, C and Yao, J 2009, 'IT Infrastructure for Supporting Multidisciplinary Urban Planning' , in: Designing Sustainable Cities , John Wiley and Sons Ltd, London, pp. 242-262.

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Urban planning is a complex and multidisciplinary decision-making process which concerns with the complex management of change within the built and natural environment that aims to plan the urban environment in terms of its physical, social, legal, economical, visual and environmental elements. The procedure of planning, in general, is considered as an iterative process of problem definition, collecting and processing of complex information, exploration of potential designs and evaluations of these designs according to set objectives, such as sustainability and enhanced quality of life of citizens (Adams 1994). In recent years, sustainability of urban environments has been transformed from a rather vague and fuzzy notion of encompassing elements of social, economic and environmental friendliness, into a more concrete and measurable theory for development and design evaluation. Various assessment frameworks for urban sustainability have been designed under the auspices of both European and UK legislation, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) and the Sustainability Appraisal (SA). Furthermore, a number of toolkits have been developed and enforced to aid in the completion of sustainability assessments, particularly within the UK context. For example, under Section 39(2) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, sustainability appraisal is mandatory for Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) revisions and for new or revised Development Plan Documents (DPDs) and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs). As a result, the contemporary urban sustainability assessments have been shifting from environment focused assessments (EIA) to more systematic and comprehensive assessments with an integrated viewpoint of environment, society and economic, such as Sustainability Appraisal. In response to these new demands, today there are two key trends in sustainability assessments and analysis in the context of urban planning. The first trend is in the direction of rigorous quantitative assessments of statistical and geospatial data to analyse “Quality of Life” indicators, by deploying advance technologies such as database and GIS technologies. At present, numerous statistical data are available from many different sources such as National Censuses, National Statistic Office, local councils, commercial survey companies and other government departments. This statistic data usually contains rich information about population, the economy, society and the environment within different scopes at local and national level. However, such data are based on different geographical boundaries, such as Supper Output Areas, Electoral Wards, Statistic Wards, and Postcode etc., making it difficult to synthesis within a common geospatial framework. Therefore the first part of this chapter shows how such disjointed datasets can be brought together within a unified information modelling framework to support the assessment of sustainable indicators. The second trend is in the direction of implementing democratic processes by encouraging wider stakeholder engagement and public participation to ensure that all the environmental, social, economical issues are considered from various view points, leading to sound decisions and consensus. One of the key challenges in supporting greater collaboration between stakeholders is the difficulty in communicating complex ideas or proposals from one discipline to another or to the citizens in a simple form. Any misinterpretation of ideas could lead to unnecessary debates, bad decisions, sub optimized solutions or objections from citizens during the construction. Therefore the second part of this chapter explores how advances in technologies such as GIS, databases, virtual reality and interfaces can be brought together to create a virtual workspace for stakeholders to come together to communicate their ideas and reach consensus.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Cooper, R, Evans, G and Boyko, C
Themes: Built and Human Environment
Schools: Schools
Schools > School of the Built Environment > Centre for Urban Processes, Resilient Infrastructures & Sustainable Environments
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Refereed: No
ISBN: 978-1-4051-7915-7
Depositing User: TP Fernando
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2011 08:55
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:00

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