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Shared tools break down planning walls

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Alice Cruickshank

From companies who make Big Data usable, to technology such as virtual reality and blockchain, here’s our guide to the proptech innovations that provide new solutions for urban planning in the Future Planning movement.

What can proptech offer the planning sector?

The main benefit to the urban planning industry is improved data sharing. Data can be collated more efficiently, and several companies are already working to amalgamate this information to provide comprehensive databases designed to aid planners with policy, potential development and demographic information. Open data offers the ability to not just make data useful but attractive, with interactive, image-based interfaces.

All of this data can be used to help find suitable sites. Mapping Greater Manchester is a mapping portal which offers maps covering demographics, infrastructure and development consultations.

Technology like virtual reality can provide an accurate visual impact of potential buildings and structures. This allows investors to explore the development long before foundations have been dug, and provides town planners with an accurate representation of how a build would impact on the local area. The ability to simulate different designs and outcomes offers invaluable assistance for decision making.

One of the biggest buzzwords in proptech right now is blockchain, and this technology promises great opportunities for use in land registration. HM Land Registry is very keen to develop this technology, with its major project ‘Digital Street’. This is a partnership with Conveyancing Association and the Council of Licensed Conveyancers to explore how land registration might work in 2030. Current thinking is to create a fully digital register, and the use of blockchain and digital signatures would provide an entirely secure way to transfer deeds.

Who’s working in Future Planning and what are they doing?

Urban Intelligence | This comprehensive database provides national, regional and local planning policies in England, starting as so often the case in London. Urban Intelligence is a licensed commercial partner of Ordnance Survey. The mapping function is currently in beta testing, and links policy with data.

Howard Urban Intelligence

Urban Intelligence’s Howard product provides a cross-border planning policy map of London

Land Insight | Cloud software for finding and assessing off-market land. Land Insight takes data from over 30 sources including Ordnance Survey, Historic England and Companies House to provide ownership information and, more importantly for interested developers, contact details.

VirtualcitySYSTEMS | This company based in Germany creates complex and detailed 2D and 3D geodata. With its flagship software, virtualcityPLANNER, users can upload 3D models into a virtual copy of an urban space, and hide existing buildings to visualise a newly developed landscape.

Tekja | Created by Italian architect and programmer, Jacopo Hirschstein, Tekja takes complex big data and designs it into usable and attractive interactive platforms. Tekja previously worked with the Housing Forum to create an interactive data map to showcase the need for affordable housing in London.

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