How Urban and Regional Planners Use Technology for Spatial Planning

Spatial planning refers to the method of designing the distribution of resources, infrastructure, and socio-economic activities in the available space and within a set framework for development of human settlements. It entails the coordination of policies and implementation thereof as it affects the placement of the mentioned elements. In a sense, it is the umbrella discipline of which urban and regional planning forms a part. Professions involved range from urban planners and land surveyors to architects and engineers, to name only a few. Several disciplines form part of the process. Such include but are not limited to transport, environmental assessment, regional, urban, community, and economic planning. The levels at which the activities take place may also differ, but all form part of the broader spatial plan framework for a city, region, province, country, or even international region.

Regional and Urban Planning

Regional planning, as part of the process, provides for the geographical manifestation of the social, economic, and ecological policies and plans of the particular society. Each country and even regions within countries have their own urban and regional development perspectives within a larger framework of spatial planning. The policymakers and role players may change, which may also cause the planning objectives to change. The term “spatial” was previously only used to refer to activities regarding zoning and the physical structuring of urban areas and land use management on that level. Currently, it is also used to describe elements and aspects that affect the relationship between living, working and recreation.

Within this context, urban planning refers to the processes involved in the allocation of land use components, design, and infrastructure development within the urban area. This includes a myriad of processes such as communication, transportation, human-settlement development, sanitation, environmental protection, air-space usage, water supply, and more. The main focus is to ensure public well-being with the least possible negative effects on the environment. With so many activities needing to take place within a set area, it is important to ensure accessibility, organisation, safety, and efficiency, all of which are only possible with proper planning, resource allocation and usage, and the setting of policies to ensure land use allows for the safe and sustainable occupation of the available areas within the urban environment.

Urban design forms part of the planning process. The design aspects include layouts regarding road infrastructure, recreational areas, human settlements, commercial spaces, and more.

Modern Technology for Mapping and Data Collection

Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) is an essential part of modern spatial planning. The spatial data points are recorded, updated, and utilised for the best possible designing of the urban areas. The data is used for decision making, and these decisions are based on accurate data. Geo-spatial data is obtained from aerial photography, satellite images, and more. This provides an accurate picture or image of the infrastructure and land on which the infrastructure is developed.

Large amounts of information are brought together in database systems. With these database systems available, professional urban planners have up-to-date information to, for instance, assess compliance with regulations, where historical sites or ecologically sensitive areas are located, and how development affects the environment.

Mapping is thus an integral part of what modern urban planners do. When a client, for instance, wants to develop a new entire mixed-use node on the outskirts of a city, the urban planners use the sophisticated technology for mapping of the area. The planner also uses the maps to help determine how the mixed-use development will affect the surrounding areas, whether the particular area in question is geographically suited for such a development, and how the infrastructure must be adapted to handle the increase in traffic.

An analysis of the land use is necessary to help the planners to choose areas where industrial, residential, commercial, or mixed-use developments are the least likely to cause environmental damage. Likewise, they can identify areas where natural disasters are less likely to occur. With such information available and the knowledge to use the information for proper spatial planning, planners are able to combine the geographical data with financial information to help decide which areas will benefit the most from the particular types of development.

Where to Get Help

Get in touch with our urban and regional planners for professional spatial planning services.