Data Augmented Planning and Rational Planning ——A Case Study in Beijing Urban Greenway SystemPlanning 1IntroductionWe are living in a new data era where oursocial life and urban physical environment can be described in detail. With thedevelopment of big data technology, many city planners and decision-makersargue that we should make use of data analysis to have a better understandingof what happens to our cities and combine it with conventional urban planningand design process.
A new term of planning approach named dataaugmented design (DAD) is put forward by scholar Ying Long. Data augmentedplanning method could be seen as an improved version of traditional rational planningsupported by data analysis, urban model building, and forecasting (Ying 2016).Through the planning process, planners make use of urban analysis ininvestigating and survey, plan design, and most importantly, evaluation andmodification. During the planning process of Beijing UrbanGreenway System Planning, GPS data of hiking in Beijing’s urban area werecollected. Based on analysis of these data, urban planners generalized hikes’demand and route selection. The overlay of large amounts of data has also ledplanners discovered long-distance main walk line which was then incorporatedinto the city’s greenway system. In this case, the big data are used to supportthe design process, alternatives choosing and implementation evaluation.
Based on the case study in Beijing UrbanGreenway System Planning, this research compares the data augment planning tothe traditional rational planning approach before the 1960s from theperspectives of their core definition, applicable situations, and methods usedin the process. The research intends to prove that when introduced empiricalbig data analysis, planners will have a more solid foundation and abundantresource in defining the problems and formulating goals; and there will be morereference parameters for the plan evaluation. 2Literature reviewThe current challenges faced by the city aswell as the urban planning encourage the development the DAD method. Influencedby the ICTs such as Uber and Sharing Bikes apps, the lifestyle, production,entertainment, and transportation patterns of cities have changed dramatically.These changes have put forward new challenges to planning and design methods.
Communicative planning method, althoughregarded as the mainstream planning method, is often questioned on its abilityto translate the consensus-based process into authentic outcomes (Jones, 1998).In the communicative planning approach, planners mainly play the coordinatingrole searching for local consensus. However, as Michael Gunder (2017) pointsout in his book, it is part of planner’s role to advance fair plans to theadvantage of deprived groups. Allmendinger (2001) believes that the role of theplanner is played down during the process of the communicative planning methodand he considers it as the consequence of planner’s engagement with localstakeholders in unbarred search for consensus. He also questioned, “How can youhave a profession if you argue that there is no such thing as expert knowledge”(Allmendinger 2009). In certain instances, the need for the expertise ofplanning may more important than catering for everyone’s interest.
On the other hand, traditional rationalplanning and design rely mainly on the planner’s personal knowledge andexperience to develop “rational” plan for the city or neighborhoods(Wang, 2001). Rational urban planning and design focus on the skill of design,inference training and development of “hardware”, but the skills of”software”, such as interdisciplinary design methods, analysisprocess, and implementation evaluation is weak (Wang, 2001).Thus problems of traditional rationalplanning and design at the present day can be concluded as follow aspects: Theinconsistent and ambiguity of the design scale and the implementation scale.
The contradiction between the subjective understanding of the situation ofsites and the outcome of scientific analysis; Unequal distribution of benefitsand the lack of public participation; The public interest cannot be guaranteed;The absence of the context suitability and so on. From the process point ofview, the traditional planning relies too much on the individual designer’sknowledge. The research process only adopts relatively simple methods, and theimplementation outcome of the planning projects cannot be traced, evaluated, ormodified (Brail, 2008). 2.1 The concept of DADData Augmented Design is a planning anddesign method put forward in the new data environment. It is based on thecombination of different heterogeneous data source, data analysis, and modelforecast (Ying 2016). It makes use of data to support every aspect of the cityplanning and design and ultimately improves the rationality, innovation, andflexibility of the planning project.
From the theoretical perspective, thetraditional rational planning and design follow the classical principleswhereas the data-enhanced design has far-reaching significance in the new dataenvironment. This method is considered as a significant breakthrough not onlybecause of the application of new design tools or lively data visualization methodsbut also the transformation of our understanding of urban entities.Specifically, the data will reinforce our understanding of the relationshipbetween entities and the information of urban entities will be translated intoa statistic language for analysis and presentation. Spatial forms and functionsare no longer interpreted as a generalized philosophical motif and theparticular context can be understood through building an accurate relationshipwith data. We will see more “more complex but interpretable spatialentities”(Ying 2016). From thepractical perspective, the core theme of DAD can be understood as: variousentities in the city are abstracted into a spatial data system throughquantitative models and combined with a large number of heterogeneous urbandata. Through making use of increasingly powerful computing power, thecognitions and complex relationship between city entities can be establishedand then used to support designing, modifying, and evaluating of planning. Inthe era of big data, much of the data is opened to public and able to bevisualized, which will change the traditional methods or models of research.
DAD emphasizes the data-driven design and is different from the digitalizationof the city in that DAD is not used to mapping data. Within the DAD framework,the data will be used to enhance the precise perception of urban entities andtheir implications and help to grasp the different social effects that can beachieved by shaping different spaces.Therefore, what DAD brings to us is anaccurate understanding of urban environment, an accurate grasp of the complexrelationship between the physical organization and its effects, and the abilityto evaluate the implementation. 2.2 Principle and characteristics of DADThe city is a system that holds highly mixedfunctions, and its complexity is increasing. Accordingly, urbanization is acomplicated process in which different dynamics affect each other.
Cities arethe places where people communicate and interact with each other. Thus the keyto understand how cities work is to know how people are connected and interactwith each other (Batty, 2013). However, most current planning projects in Chinaconcern merely on the space design and spatial effect. Based on theunderstanding of urban complexity, the principles of DAD planning and designare to focus on how to stimulate or preserve the complex functionality of urbandevelopment. DAD’s features can be included as followed: 1. Applicability:directly facing the planning and design practice. 2.
Multidimensional: a modelthat combines spatial attributes with socio-economic data. 3. Combination ofthe virtual world and the real world: a multi-angle understanding of the coreissues of the venue.
4. Quantization of design tasks. 5.
Evaluation andmodification: subsequent effort will continue to strengthen and correct modelor design through quantitative evaluation. 3 Applications of Data Augmented Planning3.1 Context of Beijing to adapt DAD3.2 Case study in Beijing GreenwaySystem Planning4 Inspirations of Successful DAD Cases6 ConclusionsReferenceAllmendinger, P. (2001). Planning in Postmodern Times.
London: Routledge Allmendinger, P. (2009). Planning Theory (SecondEdition). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Brail, R. K. (Ed.). (2008). Planning supportsystems for cities and regions.
Cambridge: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Long, Y., & Xiao, S.
(2016). DataAugmented Design: Urban Planning and Design in the New Data Environment. Beijing City Lab. Working paper.Ying Long introduces the data-augmented designmethodology in this paper and defines it as a planning method supported byquantitative data analysis, data visualization and, price evaluation. Myresearch references the definition in the paper and combines case study to givea clear concept of the data-augmented design. Michael, Gunder.
(2017). The RoutledgeHandbook of Planning Theory The Routledge Handbook of Planning Theory provides some themes in planning theory, theevolvement of the theories, and critics on the theory from some scholars. Ilook into the communicative planning method discussed in this book and useMichael’s view on the role of planner during the process of communicativeplanning method. Michael Batty. (2013). The New Science ofCities. Cambridge: Mit Press.
In the book, The New Science of Cities, Batty suggestthat cities should be studied and understand not only as places but as a systemof the network. The network means the relations between entities within thecity. Traditional planning projects tend to design space structure but ignorethe network in the space. My research uses Batty’s point of view to illustratethat the network can be simulated using data to better understand the city.
Tewdwr-Jones, M,. & Allmendinger, P. (1998).Deconstructing Communicative Rationality: A Critique of HabermasianCollaborative Planning. Environment andPlanning A. 30 (11): 1975–1989.
Communicative or collaborative planning method isconsidered as the paradigm method since the 1990s. In the research paper,however, the authors identify the limitation within this method and believe itfails to incorporate professional skill into the planning practice. I use thisviewpoint to illustrate the importance of the need for expertise in planningpractice. Jianguo, Wang.
(2001). Modern Urban Design: Theory . Nanjing:Southeast University Press.
By analyzing and comparing the theory andpractice of urban construction both at home and abroad, this book clarifies aseries of important theories in modern urban design and related fields anddiscusses the various application methods of modern urban design and itsfeasibility in China. I made use of the part where the book discusses thelimitation of the rational planning.