UI Presents at Urban Design London’s Technology and Planning Event
On January 31, Urban Intelligence presented at Urban Design London’s ‘Technology and Planning’ event, together with the Future Cities Catapult, Land Insight, Podaris, and Transport for London. The event, with most audience members from local authorities, focused on the current movement to incorporate technology into the planning process to make it more data-driven and efficient. Each presentation was followed by a brief discussion, which allowed local authority planners to provide feedback and new ideas on the current innovation landscape.
With the largely public-sector-planner audience in mind, we focused on our product, Howard, the Planning Policy Information Service — what it does and how the planners could incorporate it into their daily workflow. The presentation emphasised three key values that Howard delivers to our users: aggregated policy data (currently majorly disaggregated and a headache to navigate), linked policy and spatial data (currently existing in separation despite obvious relationships), and a superior user experience.
Wrapping up our presentation, we invited the local authority planners to sign up to Howard, as we have been offering our product for free to local authority planners from the start — for a number of reasons:
First, we believe in empowering the public sector planners with state-of-the-art technological solutions accessible to the private sector. Especially with continued budget cuts and the consequent major resource constraints, we hope to supply them with a tool that boosts their productivity and efficiency.
Second, we believe that a tool like Howard facilitates the kind of joined-up thinking and cooperation that is encouraged by the central government. Cross-boundary collaboration has been touted as indispensable to allocating development sites in sustainable locations. With Howard, neighbouring local authorities’ policy designations are transparent and readily accessible; our joined-up policies map ‘nudges’ users to pan across administrative boundaries and consider the area as a whole.
Last but not least, we believe in forming win-win relationships with local authorities. We work closely with local authorities to obtain development plan spatial data, and we then aggregate and standardise the data and give it back to local authorities in a format that adds value to their work. Everyone gains from this win-win synergy, which is why we were extremely encouraged when, after our presentation, a number of local authority planning officers approached us and asked, “What can we do to help?”
We were grateful for the opportunity to speak in front of, and network with, local authority planning officers at Urban Design London’s event and look forward to many more such opportunities.
Author: Yeonhwa Lee
Yeonhwa holds a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from the University of Pennsylvania and a MSc in International Planning from the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. Yeonhwa is passionate about cities and planning, both how we plan and what we plan for. She leads our Product Development team at Urban Intelligence, ensuring that our systems are up to date and adapting to user feedback, whilst simultaneously driving us towards our future development goals.