Technology is revolutionising participatory planning – what will you do?

20130829-075824.jpg Technology is revolutionising the opportunities for and depth of participatory design and planning – here are three software solutions you should know about.

Participatory design is gaining traction around the world, it started off as co-operative design and has some origins in Human Centered Design as well. The basics of participatory design are that the community, end users, and the wider stakeholder group are involved in the design of all sorts of things. In the built environment this might be a single building, a mixed used development or town planning.

The early days of participatory planning have been fairly shallow in their engagements – limited by the knowledge of design or planning processes that the general joe public has. But technology is enabling a far greater level of engagement.

How so?

Although my fellow design professionals who have studied for years and years may disagree I believe that game programming or gaming thinking can change the level of input and influence that joe public can have on our built environment. By using the process of gaming simplifying complex problems and putting them in graphic format that is easy to understand technology can be used to engender a far greater understanding of the complexities of cities, towns, and buildings.

Here are three examples that have huge potential for us to more readily engage with our community in participating in the design and planning of our cities.

Sim City have been used by designers, town planners and importantly joe public to design cities, understand the nuances of tax, happiness and social connection in a virtual world. FastCompany got 6 urban planners to battle their wits in designing a new city from scratch.

IBM have even seen the potential and released its CityOne game. They have seen the opportunity of data mining the worlds population for ideas as to how to better run cities. They wouldn’t have done it if there wasn’t a potential to make money!

The latest one is called StreetMix. StreetMix allows you to redesign your street with bikepaths, shared paths, roads etc within your browser. Its early days with this one but it looks promising.

So technology is enabling participatory planning to happen on a much deeper level, what will you do with it?

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