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Collaborative planning support

Sustainable development is a multi-actor process that involves all levels of society globally and locally. The process is inherently collaborative and participatory in its own nature. Senior government decision makers at the international to the local level, organizations, entrepreneurs, interest groups, social minority advocates, and citizens are involved; individuals, groups, and organizations should have equal access to information for decision making.
The first part of this book pays attention to these characteristics of sustainable development decision making, spatial planning, and management processes, dealing with the issues of public participation, in terms of theoretical and methodological premises, and of accessibility to (GI) data, in cognitive, technical, and economic terms.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) has granted freedom from distance and from the cost of digital data reproduction, virtually giving ubiquitous access to information at no (or low) cost. Nevertheless, developments in information communication infrastructures do not warrant per se the absorption by society of the newly available ICT. Societal, cultural, cognitive, organizational, and economic issues, among others, have to be seriously taken into account when implementing new processes on innovative technology platforms. While one may acknowledge that the Internet affects people’s everyday activities, the research is still ongoing about how members of a community adopt technology and telecommunications and use them to enhance their capabilities to perform a given task. On these premises Chapters 2 to 6 set a framework of basic assumptions for the implementation of e- platforms to support governance, spatial planning, decision-making, and management.
In Chapter 2, Andrea De Montis introduces the concepts of cyber planning. The pervasive diffusion of ICT is deeply affecting all sectors of society, generating cultural mutations. In many sectors the Internet has become an everyday tool to access information and communicate, fostering changes in the traditional way of working, and offering new possibilities of economic development. New professions were born, and other professions have substantially changed, while some others are changing with less radical differences. In spatial planning, technology adoption has been partially exploited, with differences depending on the planning processes and on the different local contexts in the different countries. While the planning professionals have enjoyed the support of ICT and GIS in many way [7-10], nevertheless we are perhaps still far from a sound mutation of the planning theories and paradigms, and thus from the core professional practice. Andrea De Montis argues, in line with an ongoing theoretical debate and on the bases of recent planning research results, that ICT can favorably support the implementation of collaborative information-hungry planning processes, such as those proposed by Agenda 21, to achieve sustainable development objectives. He envisages, moreover, that cyber planning instances are emerging in practice as a sort of digital evolution of planning in the Information Era, which might eventually lead to more substantial changes in the way of making plans. Chapters 9, 10, 26, and 27 propose methodologies and present case studies of digital planning experiences.

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