“Cities are engines of dynamism and creativity. In many

respects, cities are the proving ground for our efforts

to combat climate change, build resilience and achieve

faster, more equitable development progress.”  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

This article examines the need for urban and regional planning practices to be further developed in the light of both the emergence of the information/knowledge/network society and in particular the impact of information and communications technology, (ICT), on spatial change. The ways in which urban and regional planning practices may best be altered in this regard.

One major aspect of current spatial development trends can be highlighted with reference to the changing nature of our advanced societies’ economic base, where knowledge and skills are becoming the most important factors in production. This fundamental economic change moreover envisages a whole host of new functional and organisational possibilities. In consequence, the traditional ways of running businesses in industry, services and other organisations, as well as the activities of every day life will also undergo a process of fundamental change. Additionally, changes in the traditional prerequisites governing the location of various activities will occur because they now have new determinants.

These developments moreover will have a diversified spatial impact. Therefore ICT, as the main driving force in the development of the information society, should be taken into account in urban and regional planning as an important new aspect in this process. Planners should therefore recognize this new need and challenge.

The incorporation of the spatial impact of ICT into planning practices will not however occur without the purposeful actions of those who are responsible for practical planning or those who regulate and support planning.

Thus there is a clear need for further information, knowledge and understanding about the spatial impact of ICT and about its consequences on urban and regional development. Planners need updated education and training as well as new planning methods and models based on new spatial and urban theories. In addition, planning legislation and governmental guidelines should include provisions for the impact of the development of the information society and ICT on planning.

The further development of the information / knowledge / network society is now a common goal of many authorities round the world. One of the driving forces of this development is the new information and communications technology, ICT. Modern telecommunications can be seen not only as a new way of working but also as a new form of traffic. The quality and diversity of conventional transportation networks and services are important locational factors for many industries and activities. Therefore analogously one may suppose that ICT and its applications will, over the course of time, similarly come to affect spatial development and thus one may argue that with this in mind, ICT should already now be taken into account in all future spatial planning processes.

The impact of the development of the information society and especially the impact of ICT on the structures of cities and regions and on spatial development and planning in general is thus now a question that should be more widely discussed by planners, as the level of discussion on this topic has been muted at best thus far.

This article therefore aims to contribute to the discussion on the need to incorporate the spatial impact of ICT into spatial planning practices, with a particular emphasis on urban and regional planning. We will commence by discussing some of the possible spatial consequences of the development of the information society, with the application of ICT in particular being discussed. The main focus then moves on to the action needed with regard to the incorporation of the impact of ICT into urban and regional planning practices.

An understanding of social progress, and the role of the development of the information society in this process is, for planners, the key to recognising why ICT should be more fully taken into account in planning. For many visionaries in this field the information society represents a new economic era in the history of mankind (e.g. Castells, 1996/2002). This is the fourth era after the agrarian, industrial and service eras (e.g. Molitor, 1999). Therefore the impact of ICT on spatial change and development should not be examined in isolation but rather, as a part of the development of the information society. This chapter will begin with a short discussion on the essence of the information society as a force of spatial change. This discussion will then provide the basis for the proceeding analyses on the spatial impact of ICT and its consequences for spatial development.

How to make an urban planning urban?


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  2. European Journal of Spatial Development-http://www.nordregio.se/EJSD/-ISSN 1650-9544-Refereed Articles Sep 2004- no 10
  3. TEDx Talks (2013) Making urban planning urban: Gregor Wiltschko at TEDxVienna. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-0p8ZpBq04 (Accessed: 2 November 2016).