Automatic for the people? Problematising the potential of digital planning

Ruth Potts, Alex Lord, John Sturzaker

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This article contributes to the small but growing corpus of literature which analyses the increasing use of digital technologies as part of spatial planning activities. Much of that existing literature focuses on the opportunities such technology brings or explores the use of specific technology. Instead, the article seeks to problematise digital planning, explicitly questioning some of the optimistic claims made on its behalf. To do so, it makes use of a new conceptual framework to reflect upon the promises and potential pitfalls of greater use of digital technology within and beyond planning practice. The paper concludes that digital planning is no more immune to questions about exclusion and power than any other form of activity affecting the built environment, and that it is essential to question the rationale behind how decisions are made regarding the adoption of new technologies in urban planning systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Studies
Early online date15 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Apr 2024


  • digital planning
  • exclusion
  • inclusion
  • technology
  • urban planning


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