(January 2010) Abstract

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There are many computer tools which aim to help with public participation and urban regeneration: but up to now, few have been broadly recognized and widely used in practice (Geertman and Stillwell, 2004). Meanwhile we have reached a threshold, where e-communication, e-social-network, and e-governance are now becoming the norm for social and political activity. Such a universal information infrastructure brings great potential for public participation on collective goals and common concerns.

While, in spatial planning and regeneration there is a new focus on ‘place shaping' and ‘collaborative participation' towards a socially sustainable future. Local governments are seeking for innovative approaches to formulate evidence based policy and stakeholder engagement. Each of these relies on greatly enhanced information processing to enable coordination and forward planning. Local transport planning is one example of the challenge of bridging the gap between ‘experts' and policy-makers on one side, and stakeholders and residents on the other.

This research aims to improve technological support practice in planning by investigating and constructing a practical framework for developing a collaborative Planning Support System (PSS) application for planning work in area-based-regeneration practice

• OBJECTIVE 1: To review previous Planning Support Systems practice, learning from their development experience, defining supporting approaches, and looking for bottlenecks of further improvement, also studying the technology availability now.
• OBJECTIVE 2: To look at both planning theories and practices to find ground based requirements for technological support.
• OBJECTIVE 3: To construct a framework for collectively learning, sharing, communicating in PSS development in area-based planning, and form a prototype with specific reference to transport planning in regeneration.
• OBJECTIVE 4: To demonstrate a prototype PSS from a case study area, to refine the theoretical framework in real site testing, learn from the development, implementation and conclude the possible improvement of PSS in the future.

This research examines the state-of-art on public consultation in local transport planning by interviewing practitioners. The investigation targets on revealing how public participation works in local transport plan making, what techniques are engaged in obtaining public opinions on proposed transport development scheme.

Then, a future software system structure of decision support tool is proposed for enhanced information visualization, processing and sharing. The conceptual framework is based on a review of current innovations in technology and paradigm change in planning world. It aims to bring together existing technologies and tool functions in producing better information integration in collaborative planning decision making.

At last, a prototype Planning Support System was developed using Rapid Systems Modeling method (Mathiassen et al., 1991). The online information platform gives a quick demonstration of the proposed system with more effective knowledge collection, communication, and collaboration.