RIBA-Arup report highlights how data will shape future cities

06 Nov 2013

Today sees the launch of ‘Designing with Data: Shaping our Future Cities’ a joint report by Arup and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

It offers an examination of the role consumer-generated data will play in the planning and design of our cities, an angle in the smart cities debate that has been largely neglected until now.

We produce reams of data every day, generating thousands of insights into how we live our lives. Using this data more effectively can offer a deep insight into people’s needs, which has the potential to transform the way architects and urban planners design our built environments.

This could result in greater and much less costly opportunities for experimentation and testing of designs before construction begins and the chance for greater consultation with potential users. This would speed up the process, saving time and money and resulting in better and more affordable design.    

The report uses four points to examine how data use could transform our built environment and the barriers which must be overcome for its wider application. The report also makes recommendations to the UK Government on how it could enhance its smart city initiative by paving the way to designing with data.

“The UK currently scores top for open data according to the Open Knowledge Foundation. Lots of the data is available and already being collected, so why aren't more architects taking advantage? We need the Government to ensure this data is harnessed by local authorities and made available for architects, developers, residents groups, charities, and business so they can make the best use of it.  

“This report must signal an end to clunky planning application websites with their overly long reference numbers and multitude of pointless scanned documents. Data collection needs to be standardised across the country, easily accessible and open to everyone. The RIBA are looking to a future where data will enable architects to unleash their creativity in ways that are currently too expensive or time consuming to create the best buildings possible.”

— Stephen Hodder, RIBA president

“We have all been in situations when we are frustrated by our environment; when we are unable to park, roads are over-crowded or pavements too narrow. Analysis of open data provides the possibility of avoiding this, and we are already seeing some exciting government initiatives in the UK around this, including the launch of the Smart Cities Forum, the Open Data Institute (ODI) and the Future Cities Catapult. This report illustrates the positive practical and economic benefits of using open data, and in doing so demonstrates the necessity for its wider use.”

— Léan Doody, lead consultant for smart cities, Arup, and author of the report

The report is available to download from the RIBA website.



Charlotte Schofield

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