We can see the impact of urban planners everywhere in the cities of Australia and the world. Every aspect of how your suburb operates has run through the eyes of an urban planner, from the local playground through to the design of housing developments, commercial and retail precincts, and how traffic (pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicles) flow to avoid congestion and to ensure access and safety.
Getting your master’s in urban planning means that you are in a key position to approve and manage the changing shape of urban areas. When you consider that by 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in urban areas, the scope and scale of urban planning become highly apparent.
The future of urban planning is going to be innovative and exciting as well. The modern urban planner does more than just tick off developments and highways to ensure the safety and convenience of people living in urban areas. It covers off enormous areas of transformation, with modern cities and towns evolving every day.
Big data is a key consideration in modern urban planning. The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that many static items are being fitted with sensors that can feed data back to a central hub.
This can include things like traffic lights for traffic management, sensors in green space to automate and regular efficient irrigation and watering systems, solutions for effective parking, weather sensors and so much more.
The growth of IoT devices is growing exponentially. There are 31 billion IoT devices globally in 2021, up from just 7 billion in 2018.
The modern urban planner needs to be savvy to IoT technologies and to implement sensors in critical areas to harvest data and improve city planning, new developments, and transport. These sensors can be implemented in hospitals, public transport, ride-share vehicles, and shopping centers.
Crucial information can be harvested from smart cities including trip origins and destinations, real-time traffic monitoring, travel patterns, etc. It can also be used to easily discover where areas of the city are lacking key infrastructure and services and how people are reacting to that.
On top of harvesting data, smart cities can use Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC) to communicate information to residents. People could be able to sit at a bus stop and instantly know when their bus is arriving, motorists can be alerted to hazards and congestion, and more.
Sustainable communities, towns, and cities are inevitable. As the world works toward a zero-emissions future, the need to create environmentally-friendly, green cities has come right to the fore – and it is a key part of the role of a modern urban planner.
Some of the elements of sustainable cities to be considered by the modern urban planner include:
These include water and energy-saving technologies, water recycling methods, low to no-emission lighting and power, solar technologies, implementing green spaces like walls made from plants, etc.
To encourage residents to walk and cycle, it needs to be simple and safe for them to do so. More and more cities are adding dedicated cycling tracks and walkways that are blocked for vehicle traffic.
No more concrete jungles, there need to be ample green spaces, safe and clean waterways, and emission-free businesses, commercial properties, and retail operations.
If homes and businesses are expected to be powered by renewable energy sources like solar, public assets will need to be powered by renewables as well. This includes street lights, traffic lights, signage, etc.
At the forefront of sustainable urban planning is livability. While these measures are good for the environment, they are also centered around people’s health, welfare and wellbeing by delivering cities and spaces that are healthier and more efficient.
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