Digital participatory platforms in urban planning

Babelon, Ian (2021) Digital participatory platforms in urban planning. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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Digital technologies for public participation in the form of 3D and 2D geoparticipation, generalist/multifunctional and bespoke digital portals are increasingly being harnessed by local government to crowdsource local knowledge and engage the public in urban planning policies as a means of increasing the transparency, legitimacy and effectiveness of planning processes. These forms of public participation initiated by local government typically go beyond statutory requirements and provide evidence of a participatory turn in urban planning practice. Current innovations are such that they outpace research about the effectiveness of digital engagement in participatory planning practices.

Through a qualitative meso-investigation about the use of digital participatory platforms (DPPs) in urban planning, this thesis contributes much-needed empirical evidence based on 29 online survey responses and 54 interviews with a total of 83 planning professionals for 25 digital platforms deployed in 61 use-cases in cities across Europe, North America and Australia. Additionally, interviews with 13 software providers provide cumulative insight about DPP use-cases. The findings indicate that objectives for using DPPs are multiple, context-dependent, and relate to perceived levels of influence. DPPs’ influence on urban planning processes and decisions is typically indirect in that they are typically used as part of an ecosystem of tools for public participation, as part of continuous processes of innovation and experimentation. Theoretically, the research reconceptualises digital platforms for public participation as hybrid socio-technical systems. The thesis also provides valuable recommendations for planning professionals and software providers to better take stock of the identified socio-technical interdependencies and help improve DPP workflow integrations. The combined empirical, theoretical and methodological findings highlight that planning workflows and processes both shape the use of DPPs and are reshaped by them through recursive processes of DPP innovation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: public participation GIS, civic tech, community engagement, citizen participation, spectrum of public participation
Subjects: K900 Others in Architecture, Building and Planning
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Architecture and Built Environment
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2021 08:25
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 14:45

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