During the Corona crisis, innovative dashboards were created to monitor the current dynamics. Urban planning work also requires an integrated view of different areas of society. This requires a municipal data strategy that enables access to associated data sources and uses technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to generate relevant information. On the other hand, many stakeholders must be involved – decision makers, technical experts, as well as citizens and journalists who communicate the consequences of municipal actions.
Each of these stakeholders needs data literacy: an understanding of what data can do and how it can be used to benefit society. This is the only way that data-driven decisions can be made and supported by those affected. Because successful urban planning 4.0, whether in the areas of “health”, “education”, “energy”, “living” or “mobility”, requires participation.
Municipalities today have to control complex systems and manage risks – for example in traffic planning. It should generate motives for services of general interest and enable new ways of joint planning in order to adapt to changing living needs, for example as a result of the various regional effects of demographic change: the growth of cities, the shrinking and aging of rural areas. In order to ensure long-term healthcare, population developments must be compared to existing infrastructure.
Data-driven school development planning is based on medium and long-term scenarios that take educational trends into account, eg. The current school landscape can undergo a stress test to answer the following questions: Where will school buildings be required in the future? How can the school’s diversified offer be guaranteed? What does homeschooling infrastructure look like?
In the field of power and heat supply, the optimal locations for electric vehicle charging stations must be found. Forecasts are needed at an early stage about the demand for electricity that will arise in the future and whether and how it can be covered by infrastructure. This applies to the needs that arise when building new territories depending on the future population structure, as well as the growing energy needs of a more digital economy. As far as life, work and commuting is concerned, it is essential to investigate how passenger movements can be reduced through new work and home office concepts. Stat-up, a statistical and data science consultancy, emphasizes that future life concepts, such as co-living based on life stage, should also be on the urban planning agenda 4.0.
With the development of planning and governance tools, municipal dashboards can support decision-making because different urban planning and policy scenarios can be objectively modeled and compared. Ideally, it also opens up the possibility of flexibly collecting new data through the user community and improving prediction models. To do this, it is important to make the municipality transparent (eg through open data concepts), activate target groups and decentralize their knowledge gathering in a collaborative way.
Digitization provides data and tools. The ability to share and use it and the willingness to do so is a matter of knowledge and skills, but it is also an open attitude and willingness to collaborate on the part of urban planners, city statisticians, political decision-makers and citizens. This makes Urban Planning 4.0 a multidisciplinary challenge.