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Digitisation is crucial for territorial plans says EU study

Process is moving forward in many EU countries say ESPON researchers.

(ANSA) - BRUSSELS, JUL 1 - The process of digitisation in the public sector is moving forward in many European counties and the area of territorial planning is no exception.
    The digitisation process is driven by ideas of efficiency, expressed, for example, in the concepts of 'smart cities' and 'digital governance', by ideas to improve the quality of, and level of participation in, public services, as with concepts such as 'open government and 'open data', and by aspirations towards a new form of economic growth and business opportunities based on the 'oil' of the 21st century - data.
    The digital transition is also playing an increasingly important role in territorial planning.
    The digitisation of territorial plans and of territorial planning processes has already been happening in many European countries in recent decades.
    The DIGIPLAN project, conducted by the ESPON research programme specialised in regional-policy analysis, contributes to the analysis of the approaches used by different national planning systems, providing an overview of the digitisation of urban-planning data in a number of European countries.
    The study revealed that digital urban plans improved work flows and planning practices for the planning authorities, thus helping to reduce the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Furthermore, digitisation enables citizens and users to obtain the precise information they need, increasing transparency and the level of involvement of the parties interested in planning issues.
    According to the researchers, the digitization of territorial plans is mainly a top-down process, in which the ministry or competent authority propels the process, especially in centralized States.
    Other elements that have contributed to accelerating the digitization of territorial plans are the implementation of the Inspire directive, which aims to guarantee the compatibility of spatial-data infrastructure among all the Member States, and the more general push towards digitalisation and technological development.
    The researchers said that the digitization process has reached different stages in the countries analysed, depending on, among other things, the amount of resources allocated to it, when it started and the level of competence in spatial planning of the public authorities involved.
    They concluded that future developments could be influenced by a reset of priorities and by eventual budget restrictions following the pandemic. (ANSA).


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