Dsicuss about the Prototype Analysis Tools In Investigation.
Notably, E-planning is the use of IT tools or systems, for example, geographical information system (GIS), planning support system (PSS) and database management system (DBMS). E-planning, in other words, can be explained as the broad use of communication and information technology as used in the urban planning process or the use of E-government principles to urban planning (Alexander, 2016). It is a setup which helps government officials and associates in easing planning activities. This use of technology-based tools helps deliver better planning information, services and results to the public. E-planning program has replaced the earlier traditional paper-based and face to face interactions to a more transparent and easier to use online environment where any data regarding planning can be readily available at any time. The shift to e-planning was accelerated by the need of having an urban planning process that is more efficient, with reduced costs and time efficient. E-planning in Australia has seen a rapid growth in the last fifteen years and in this paper we are going to discuss the use of e-planning in one of the states in Australia, NSW, and how it has affected the urban planning process either positively or negatively.
New South Wales (NSW) located in southeast Australia is one of the most populous states. It is estimated that 4.5 million people live in Sydney which is the Australian economic powerhouse (Bennadji, Laing, and Gray, 2015). This calls for a better urban planning process and NSW began its modern planning in 1945 where they had to make some legislative changes to the then local government (Bishop et al, 2017). These changes did not bring positive results and in the year 1979, a new body formed the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EPAA). EPAA was very important and was accepted widely from all sectors since it really helped people in planning. Reforms about planning in NSW are on the fast track nowadays and are majorly focusing on making the state an economic hub with the best urban planning layouts. These reforms have been a success in the state since its employment of the E-planning process. E-planning has led to a more efficient, fast, automated –based systems that have been of great help to developers.
In the year 2014, NSW state planning agency initiated a series of e-planning tools which were to be used in developing a smart NSW and Sydney (Brown, 2015). These tools have been accepted by developers to be more efficient hence improve the automation mechanisms. The following are some of the tools that are used in NSW in facilitating e-planning in urban planning:
This tool is significant to developers since it assists them in monitoring their progress in their work. It is an online system whose main aim is to shorten, fast track and help development approvals process. This has, therefore, helped achieve the goals set 10-15 years of speed and simplicity. This system is been trialled in many local councils in NSW.
Electronic Housing Code
Electronic Housing Code (EHC) is a tool that helps developers to decide whether they can build any planning approvals or whether they can use a fast-tracked approval process. This online system helps the developers to lodge and track complying developments easily online. This system comes with the advantage that it is free to use and it easily accessible, fast and has a standardised system (Campagna et al, 2018). Of great importance is that complying development is thoroughly related to the privatization of development approvals through private certifies.
This online tool is used by developers in building works that do not need planning approvals known as exempt development. This online tool will help the developers to understand the building's development standards. This system gives advice to prospective developers on issues regarding what development standards to apply to numerous areas of buildings (residential, commercial and industrial) (Capra, 2016). The advice comes in a simple language and the system is easy to use since the developers only require to click on a significant part of the building.
Developers need to know the planning rules to apply to properties in NSW and this online free tool is used for the purpose. It has numerous advantages like helping prospective developers in determining what rules to apply in individual land parcels and also help them know properties that require unique planning rules. It can be applied for example in determining whether a multi-storey building is permitted in a certain area.
An online application that is available on both mobiles phones and desktop computers for developers to access various information related to planning and what is going on in NSW local government areas.
Benefits of e-planning
Before e-planning was fully implemented, interactions between various departments, councils and the community could only happen during the working hours, only paper-based documents, forms and maps were available. This made the whole process very tiresome and time-consuming and interactions could only happen through conventional approaches to stakeholder engagement. This prompted the department of e-planning to transform the delivery of planning and development services. They included online lodgement and tracking of applications, having an interactive map where planning information could be viewed and devising new ways in which stakeholders can participate in the planning process (Logan and Walker, 2018 pp.197). The community is not left behind by these e-planning tools developments since they can access vital authoritative planning information and services anytime they like online.
E-planning program has brought about many benefits ranging from better transparency, quality and reliability of any data in the state of NSW, improve confidence in the e-planning process and also save money. By use of e-planning, one is able to make decisions faster and better. E-planning has launched new features in which have greatly been of use to its users. They include user registration, view detailed information, search, and save search.
User Registration feature notifies the user with an e-mail when a new planning application is added to the system. The feature requires the user to create his or her own profile hence always get a notification on areas where they are interested. This feature, however, does not necessarily need one to register as one can search for any information about planning applications, appeals and properties. View detailed information allows users to access information and documents which are related to a selected application online.
Search allows users to search numerous options that they require for example by status or the date validated. Users can search information through the description of what they need. Using property and postcode search one can search for any application progress for a certain road alphabetically. Applications on the system can also be viewed by use of a postcode.Save a search feature allows users to save their daily and common searches. This allows them to save time the next time they log in to the site. Map search allows users to view where applications are on a map. This feature has worked under a pre-selected time period, for example, the last six weeks or two years. Track applications is used when there is a change in the status of a planning application, users are in a position to receive automatic emails hence track the applications
Other benefits of the e-planning systems include, members of the community are in a position to appeal development actions in a cheap way, the community benefit from practical tools which are given by the state government, communities and councils must be at an agreement on issues concerning new planning schemes and climate change is highly considered in all development proposals.
Online lodgement of planning scheme submissions provides an opportunity for further integration of planning and development functions and also enhances lodgement and management capabilities.
Planning scheme amendments which are notified through various electronic channels (email and social media) takes advantage of new technology platforms to distribute information and better engage with stakeholders regarding planning scheme amendments
The system has an electronic calculator for calculating infrastructure charges and this can be assessed by all the stakeholders
The system has an improved customer engagement option where users have the advantage of having an improved web conferencing functions. The system also makes use of QR codes .The system has a platform whereby there is ‘how to' videos. These videos educate the users on lodgement process, interpreting conditions, reading planning scheme, determining the level of assessment and applicable codes.
Pitfalls of e-planning
In the recent years, there has been an explosion globally over the usage of the internet in e-planning. This has resulted in numerous articles and journals in the area of e-planning research trying to figure out whether the e-planning technology can deliver better planning outcomes. (Ertiö, 2015). There have been issues about the virtual reality features questioning whether this will empower the stakeholders as a part of the decision-making process (Ertiö and Bhagwatwar, 2017). In reality, e-planning poses a big challenge to planners when the technology is used in the participatory frame. This is because the technology comes with the benefits of transparency that makes the community to be always informed about anything thus in case there is a controversy, decision making will be negatively affected. The other danger with great transparency is that it will affect the existing assumptions about the role of stakeholders and planners.
Jean Baudrillard is a French post-modern thinker who has numerous appropriate commentaries on the impact of technology on society. He suggested that in a modern planning setting idea always represent themselves as real events. Power also is supposed to be structured in a rational and orderly way and in post-modern planning, it is expected that there should be a collapse of these structures due to developers, resistant groups and the public (Baudrillard, 2016). This applies in e-planning whereby it is expected that technology can collapse any time. E-planning has the benefit of letting the public to have a lot of information but in one of the Baudrillard's essays about the silent response of the masses to a lot of information, he sees the media as a mode of communication that could not be responded to since there is the ‘silent majority' whose opinions are not considered thus leading to a manipulated result. This is related to e-planning whereby vital concern of planners is to downplay the views and opinions of the vocal minority and try to apprehend what the silent majority wants. This is a danger in waiting in e-planning since the silent majority could be having a strategy of disengagement from the technology.
In spite of the interest and resources dedicated by the local authority to e-planning, there was a credit to some of the pitfalls of using a more effective e-planning tactic. To be precise, there was a perceived risk that by making the systems more effective the personal, unrestricted elements of planning would be missed (Falco and Kleinhans 2018). The system puts the planners at the risk of turning them into ‘monkeys; pushing buttons on computers forgetting that there is merit assessment in each and every work. This system of e-planning can lead to a perception that planning is just a game of numbers but in particular, planning should be an art.
The issue about anonymity and identity in e-planning is a major concern since it may cause problems. In e-planning, it is possible to have anonymous posts and debates thus causing problems with the boundaries between interest groups (Kline, 2016 pp.641). This anonymity can be abused by planners who have agendas of using the system's forum for political needs. This also caused the problem of whereby since people do not need to identify themselves, this may lead to non-residents using the system. Anonymity leads to lack of accountability and this can lead to opposition and cruelty.
E-planning tools come with the advantage that the services are cheap and easy to access. This poses a problem in the future since there could be an issue of over consulting. The system risks a danger of being manipulated whereby an amount of control can be embedded using a software to the internet (Paulus and Baruah, 2018, p192). This control may go unnoticed therefore affecting the system's transparency. Other limitations that face this system is cyber-attack whereby there can be a virus to affect the processes of the system.
Arguably, e-planning has brought a lot of changes in the urban planning field. This, however, has been met with numerous challenges and potential dangers that may happen to the systems if the above-discussed limitations are not well addressed. Any system is expected to have its own challenges but as for e-planning, the benefits outweigh the pitfalls in a huge way. These pitfalls are little concern as compared to the problems that people faced when using the traditional paper-based systems.
E-planning has really helped urban planning in Australia and in particular NSW. This has raised great expectations and the tools of this system are so powerful such that they have changed the depth in the way planning works. In NSW, there are some vital computer – aided policymaking tools that have not yet been implemented. (Saad-Sulonen, 2014). These tools are of great importance in enhancing better planning. The following tools are very important in strategic planning and should be used in NSW. However, the need for a better technology has led to not questioning whether there are any dangers in waiting or whether there can be a system with better planning outcomes. Australia has a great focus on economic efficiency thus their planning reforms have been broadly supported by the housing industry lobbyists. There are various local communities who have raised voices of discord towards the lack of proper consideration of public participation and sustainability issues. Reforms lay a solid emphasis on the use of electronic planning. The NSW state has entirely focused on the use of technology in order to improve their routine planning. (Suseela and Uma, 2017). This has been a success due to the employment of various measures like electronic lodgement, tracking and assessment of development applications.
In order to make sure that e-planning system in NSW is more effective, there are various tools that have not been implemented. The following programs/software, when implemented, will improve urban- plan in the area. The Cyber Quest tool contains some multimedia properties and is of great help in the ‘think' phase of the policymaking. Users are able to use the tool when carrying out any analysis and can access the spreadsheet, drawings and the internet.
STRAD is known as the strategic adviser and can be likened to the ‘choose' part of the policy-making process. It comprises assembling people together to figure out about policymaking problem. The software works by alerting users on the dangers posed when implementing certain policies and scrutinises the level of doubt facing the problem. This software also keeps records of comparative importance and urgency of policy-making issues and assesses a number of likely, successive chain of activities. It also examines how various policies affect each other.
The strategizer program rates different policies using a simulated neural network. It has the ability to copy ways in which past users make policies. This is vital in helping community groups to rate different policies.
Alexander, E.R., 2016. There is no planning — only planning practice: Notes for spatial planning theories. Planning Theory, 15(1), pp.91-103.
Andersson, E., Barthel, S., Borgström, S., Colding, J., Elmqvist, T., Folke, C. and Gren, Å., 2014. Reconnecting cities to the biosphere: stewardship of green infrastructure and urban ecosystem services. Ambio, 43(4), pp.445-453.
Baudrillard, J., 2016. The consumer society: Myths and structures. Sage.
Bennadji, A., Laing, R. and Gray, D., 2015. Urban Planning and Climate Change Mitigation: Using Virtual Reality to Support the Design. Emerging issues, challenges, and opportunities in urban e-planning, 210.
Bishop, I.D., Eagleson, S., Pettit, C.J., Rajabifard, A., Badland, H., Day, J.E., Furler, J., Kalantari, M., Sturup, S. and White, M., 2017. Using an Online Data Portal and Prototype Analysis Tools in an Investigation of Spatial Livability Planning. International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR), 6(2), pp.1-21.
Brown, G., 2015. Engaging the wisdom of crowds and public judgement for land use planning using public participation geographic information systems. Australian Planner, 52(3), pp.199-209.
Campagna, M., Di Cesare, E.A., Matta, A. and Serra, M., 2018. Bridging the Gap Between Strategic Environmental Assessment and Planning: A Geodesign Perspective. International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR), 7(1), pp.34-52.
Capra, C.F., 2016. The Smart City and its Citizens: Governance and Citizen Participation in Amsterdam Smart City. International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR), 5(1), pp.20-38.
Ertiö, T.P. and Bhagwatwar, A., 2017. Citizens as planners: Harnessing information and values from the bottom-up. International Journal of Information Management, 37(3), pp.111-113.
Ertiö, T.P., 2015. Participatory apps for urban planning—space for improvement. Planning Practice & Research, 30(3), pp.303-321.
Ertiö, T.P., Ruoppila, S. and Thiel, S.K., 2016, September. Motivations to use a mobile participation application. In International Conference on Electronic Participation (pp. 138-150). Springer, Cham.
Falco, E. and Kleinhans, R., 2018. Digital Participatory Platforms for Co-Production in Urban Development: A Systematic Review. International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR), 7(3), pp.1-27.
Kline, K., 2016. Jean Baudrillard and the Limits of Critical Media Literacy. Educational Theory, 66(5), pp.641-656.
Logan, T.K. and Walker, R., 2018. Looking into the Day-To-Day Process of Victim Safety Planning. Journal of Family Violence, 33(3), pp.197-211.
Paulus, P.B. and Baruah, J., 2018. Enhancing Creativity in E-Planning: Recommendations From. New Approaches, Methods, and Tools in Urban E-Planning, p.192..
Sabri, S., Pettit, C.J., Kalantari, M., Rajabifard, A., White, M., Lade, O. and Ngo, T., 2015. What are essential requirements in planning for future cities using open data infrastructures and 3d data models. 14th Computers in urban planning and urban management (CUPUM2015), pp.314-1.
Saad-Sulonen, J., 2014. COMBINING PARTICIPATIONS. Expanding the Locus of Participatory E?Planning by Combining Participatory Approaches in the Design of Digital Technology and in Urban Planning. Aalto University.
Silva, C.N. ed., 2015. Emerging Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities in Urban E-Planning. IGI Global.
Sinnott, R.O., Bayliss, C., Bromage, A., Galang, G., Grazioli, G., Greenwood, P., Macaulay, A., Morandini, L., Nogoorani, G., Nino?Ruiz, M. and Tomko, M., 2015. The Australia urban research gateway. Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, 27(2), pp.358-375.
Suseela, S. and Uma, G., 2017. Unit-8 Methods and techniques Of planning.