When technology is reconstructing ( I don't like the word 'disrupting') various industries, how can city and urban planning be in the audience; we see a tonne of solutions coming up every now and then. And very fascinating ones indeed. In this deluge of tech, how can we keep our focus on the most important aspects to be considered while using AI solutions for Urban dynamics and avoid being carried away by our enthusiasm.
I went around and met a few urban planners who are overlooking road and intersection design in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi Area.
With the experience of implementing some technological solutions, these were my observations:
1. Workflow - It's very hard to use technology if it doesn't integrate with your workflow. Most city designers have a predefined workflow and technology should find a spot that seamlessly fits into it. A change in workflow just because tech has to be used, is not very friendly. So, you should measure the detour that you have to do to use algorithms for planning. If the new workflow doesn't let you use it, it's hard to trust that it will last long.
2. Tangible Benefits - It's not hard to grab attention from city authorities by showing latest AI technology. All cities want to show that they are modern and are willing to do things to stay ahead in the technology race. Cities can't afford to be data poor. But as a city planner, it's important to think of hard facts: are the metrics for the product clearly outlined? If not, what will justify the extra effort, cost etc. for using it in the future?
3. Full Scale Implementation - At times it's easy to show the benefit of tech in a small pocket. The scale of the problem is manageable and analysis can be fine tuned or customized to the specific local problem. But problems emerge when an attempt is made to deploy at a larger scale. While it's useful to measure pros and cons in a more controlled urban environment, the ability to scale should be assessed beforehand.
4. Collaboration with Techies - Technology is evolving at a very rapid pace. For most of the tech that you would use, it would have been around for only a year or two. And further, majority of it is coming from technologists and not architects. That necessitates involvement and collaboration. The onus of bridging the gap between urban planners and technologists is to be shared by both. And while it's not easy, it way too important for getting the most insights out of the exercise.
5. International market - Technology can be shipped globally. Do not restrict yourself to local vendors and service providers. Look around, may be a product across the world is the right product for you.
I hope your projects AI aided design for urban planning are successful. These are some of my experiences working with urban planners.
Have a good one!