Extra time for the planning architect to actually plan. More perspectives included in the detailed development plan. And, not least, long-term construction that creates sustainable cities that actually last over time – yes, really last. Digital methods and shared data can make a big difference to municipalities that are in the process of development.
Creating a good, sustainable detailed development plan is municipalities’ ultimate tool for development of the physical environment. This is where everything – legal requirements, aesthetics, different groups’ needs – is to be collected in order to create the optimum environment for the municipality’s inhabitants. But it is not always so easy.
– "Planning work is multidisciplinary, and in the detailed development plan the planning architect has to cover an incredible variety of interests, as well as weighting them, so they can then be transformed into a physical form," says Andreas Huss, senior project manager in RISE’s Connected Society unit.
– “And this is the nub of the problem: if the planning architect is to do this in a traditional way, just gathering all the documentation will take ages. And when you then endeavour to weight it and examine the various possible outcomes, it goes without saying that you won’t be able to try out every possible variant.”
Larger opportunities with digital tools
Take as an example the construction of a new residential building, for which it has already been determined how large and how tall it is to be, and where it is to be located.
– “But then you want to maximise the amount of daylight getting into the apartments. If you draw and analyse things by hand you can maybe try out a couple of different slants on the facade, but if you use digital tools the computer can simulate thousands of variants, and thereby find the optimum option. This can significantly increase daylight intake without increasing the architect's workload.”
The great thing is that this applies not only to facades but also to all the detailed planning work. Digital tools simply create more space to weigh up the same information and visualise and simulate different outcomes.
– "We will then get completely new possibilities of including and weighting all the considerations to be found in Agenda 2030, and thereby create cities that are more sustainable.”
Start specifying requirements in connection with the information as early as at the procurement stage
Requirements are important...
But what is then needed so municipalities can succeed in switching to this mode of working and order data in the right way?
– “You firstly have to start specifying requirements in connection with the information as early as at the procurement stage. For example, it does not suffice for the consultant carrying the noise measurements to deliver a PDF with calculations and recommendations – they must also deliver the original data so that it can be reused. We’re initially talking about pretty low-hanging fruit.”
You secondly need rules and standards as to the nature of the data-sharing, as well as how it is to be made available and visualised – both for those who currently need it and for those who may need it in the future.
...as well as collaboration
What do you need in order to get to that stage? According to Andreas Huss an important factor is the municipalities having the right customer skills, so they will know what opportunities actually exist and what they can ask for. He also thinks it is important for different parts of the municipality's administration to start collaborating more rather than working on their own.
– "This change in process is doubtless harder than the technical change, but we at RISE have experience in driving these changes forward, and we’ll be only too happy to help visualise what the municipality could do and the nature of these actions.”
When you have these data sets you can always go back and ask more questions en route
Data analysis for sustainable community building
But RISE not only helps facilitate municipalities' transition to sharing of data in the detailed planning work but it also assists both municipalities and other authorities in analysing large volumes of data so as to facilitate implementation and evaluation of public projects in the field of urban planning. Such work is about to start in Gothenburg, where the municipal housing company Framtiden has put aside money for a major investment in the city's vulnerable areas.
– "The Framtiden group's goal is for no residential area in Gothenburg to be on the police's list of vulnerable areas by 2025," says Mikael Mangold, researcher at RISE's unit for urban development.
– "Our remit here is to carry out statistical analyses in order to see how the development is progressing.”
Aggregated data facilitates control
As part of this work, data from previous projects will be collected, as well as data from the Swedish Crime Prevention Council and the Swedish National Agency for Education. Data will be aggregated, and will in other words not include information on individuals, the hope being that with the aid of RISE’s analyses Framtiden will be able to steer and manage the project in a positive way.
– "Our analyses also facilitate better follow-up of the investment and an improved comparison with other ones, the hope being that we will be able to find out which changes in the areas are the result of Framtiden’s investment, and which are the result of ventures on the part of schools or the police.”
The Framtiden group will thereby more easily be able to assess whether the money invested has created the hoped-for results, and similar players at other locations will be able to see if this is an investment that is worth drawing inspiration from. But what is the advantage of carrying out this analysis with the aid of extensive building-specific information rather than conventional quantitative research?
– “The strength is that when you have these data sets you can always go back and ask more questions en route. You don't need to make new selections and gather data again – you can instead directly reformulate your questions. This in turn paves the way for a great deal of research into investments in the housing stock and community development.