How to leverage the power of digital participatory tools in urban planning

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Stakeholder engagement is crucial in sustainable urban planning, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging, as traditional participatory methods can pose a health risk to those involved. This has raised questions over the extent to which digital tools and platforms can bridge the gap, and what else practitioners need to be aware of when planning urban green infrastructure.

More than 25 people attended a recent interactive brainstorming session organized by SEI for the Nature of Cities Festival 2021 as a part of the projects B.Green and the SEI City Health and Wellbeing Initiative. Participants included urban planners, architects, youth engagement coordinators, and researchers.

Short presentations were delivered by different attendees on a variety of topics: the future of online platforms for participation and ethical issues related to digital engagement (SEI); interactive 3D modelling of urban green infrastructure (Forum Virium Helsinki) and recommendations for the use of extended reality use in planning (Metropolia); the use of specific tools such as online digital participation cases (Cesis, Latvia) (Vividly) and Minecraft (Block by Block Foundation); online participatory GIS resident surveys (SEI); the hybrid Design Sprint model for stakeholder participation (Forum Virium Helsinki); and Her City online toolkit (Utmaning Foundation).

Although the discussion was held in the context of urban green, nature-based solutions and green infrastructure, the points that were made are all transferable to urban planning in general.

Read the key points and conclusions from the perspective by Heidi Tuhkanen

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

B.Green – Baltic Green Urban Infrastructure Planning is co-funded by Interreg Central Baltic Programme 01.02.2020 – 31.12.2022.