Transforming Places Together: digital strategy for planning

This strategy defines a long-term strategic direction for how Scotland’s planning system will digitally transform, embracing the opportunities new digital technologies and data present. It sets out what we intend to deliver, why this is needed and the benefits this transformation will bring.

Mission 5 - Embed a culture of digital innovation

We will embed a culture of digital innovation in planning, securing a long-lasting legacy and allowing the sector to continuously improve and quickly respond to the emergence of new technology.

Mission 5 - 5 Year Goals

2021 - 2025

Establish the PlaceTech Innovation Lab to support green recovery and sustainable place-making; research, test and implement new technologies in planning realising potential and continuous improvement.

Continue to sponsor public sector innovation challenges.

Develop the culture, mindset and spirit of innovation needed to drive continuous improvement and digital innovation in the planning sector, including embracing new ways of working and not being afraid to try and fail.

Establish a partnership across private, public and academic sectors to explore emerging technologies as they emerge.

Establish an innovation pipeline to explore innovations not currently used widely in planning such as digital twin, machine learning, 3D visualisations and distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Mission 5 - Priority Actions

2021 - 2022

Finalise a proposal for creation of the PlaceTech Innovation Lab, as an incubator and collaborative hub for organisations and private sector companies to access and use data and tools for digital placemaking to drive forward a digital innovation culture for sustainable places.

Establish a partnership with the Scottish higher education sector by embedding planning and innovation challenges within university courses, promoting links with the sector, and driving innovation and the digital economy.

Begin the innovation pipeline with the application of 3D visualisation and digital twin technology in planning.

Continue to offer innovation challenges through existing business incubators and accelerators.

Promote participation in a digital leadership course to develop a culture and mind-set of digital innovation in planning.

Developing a culture of innovation – PlanTech Pathfinder

The planning technology (PlanTech) marketplace continues to evolve and has seen significant investment in recent years to develop new and innovative solutions. We are keen to harness these innovations in the digital transformation of planning to improve delivery, facilitate better engagement with communities and strengthen inclusive economic growth.

To support the proposals in the strategy around opening up opportunities for the PlanTech market we ran our PlanTech Pathfinder with Scottish Futures Trust during summer 2020. The Pathfinder looked at a number of specific challenges found within planning including Visualisation of plans.

Our research pointed to a strong and growing PlanTech market that can enable planners to rapidly benefit from technology progress and innovations.

To harness these opportunities the research highlighted the importance of information exchange and use across different technologies.

Digital Transformation of the planning system will require a coordinated and collaborative approach at a local, regional and national levels, with interactions across multiple systems and technologies. The use of API technology will help to facilitate these interactions and to open up future opportunities for the PlanTech sector.

Looking to the future – PlaceTech Innovation Lab

We are committed to ensuring that innovation in planning continues to take place beyond the lifespan of our 5 year programme.

To do this we will establish a PlaceTech Innovation Lab, to act as both a research incubator and an accelerator of planning and place related technology.

We have seen similar models working well both in Scotland and internationally. In Scotland, CivTech and Geovation have forged new links between the public and private sector to solve technology challenges, improving public service delivery, creating economic development opportunities and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset within government.

BLOXHUB is another collaborative model we have looked at closely. Located in Copenhagen, BLOXHUB is the Nordic Hub for sustainable urbanisation with a membership base of around 350 companies, science institutions, organisations and public bodies - all working with architecture, design, construction, tech or other fields related to sustainable urbanisation.

We will continue to learn from these approaches as we develop the model for the PlaceTech Innovation Lab. We will identify and understand the existing innovation initiatives within Scotland to complement existing resources, centres and activities.



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