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Conceptualising the Use of Digital Technologies in Spatial Planning: A Progress Report on Innovation in Britain

Author / Authors:

  • Barry Goodchild


This article is about how best to frame the use of digital technology in spatial planning and how best to frame the evaluation of impact. The different sections argue the following points. First, the conceptualisation of digital technologies in spatial planning should pay less attention to the discourse of smart cities and more to pragmatic approaches that can cope with the Janus-faced character of technology and provide a bridge to planning theory. Then, as revealed by the assumptions of actor network theory, there are three main innovation paths—Prop-Tech, Civic-Tech, and Project-Tech—all of which have a different pattern of beneficiaries. Then, as revealed by structuration theory and unless moderated by professional ethics and explicit policy commitments, technology is likely to be concerned with the cost effectiveness of working practices. Finally, taking the various approaches together, spatial planning may be conceptualised as a field of heterogeneous elements (stakeholders and citizens, technology, place) with non-local governance and markets as external structuring forces.

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International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR)
Volume 9, Issue 3, July - September 2020
Editor-in-Chief: Carlos Nunes Silva (University of Lisbon, Portugal)


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