Local Impact

Dominique Davison / June 30, 2017

Data Drives Healthier Communities
My team at PlanIT Impact is more inspired and motivated than ever about the potential for technology to solve critical problems our cities face after spending time in D.C. with industry professionals, academic experts and leaders focused on building the Smart City of tomorrow. The benefits of better data are enormous when applied to design and model scenarios around infrastructure improvements, buildings, and the spaces they create. The social equity and sustainability consequences are equally vital and critical to understand.

Imagine if we had finer-grained data on air quality.
Increased monitoring stations across cities allow building professionals and urban planners to gather historical data to predict the effect of planting more street trees, or to demonstrate that a school is not the right use for an area until local air quality is improved. A more comprehensive grasp on air quality in a city can increase our awareness about causes, effects, key performance indicators of reducing air pollution.

More data can also keep our communities’ water supply safer.
With live water quality data, pollutants could be monitored in real-time so that we avoid tragic health impacts such as what happened in Flint, Michigan. This could also allow for more accurate bench-marking of water savings efforts, understanding where leaks in the infrastructure are occurring and promoting general awareness around more efficient usage.

Responding to real-time data around transportation is becoming more necessary than ever before as autonomous vehicles are more widely accepted.
What if parking requirements for a project could be tied to the actual availability of parking for a walking radius from a proposed project, taking into account the availability of transportation and tendencies of local inhabitants? This could save project costs by right-sizing the parking for real estate development, rather than depending on zoning regulations to keep up with innovation in this space.

These are only a few examples of the many ways that a smarter city infrastructure could provide more transparency about environmental health risks and streamline development, which often struggles with increasing regulation. In light of this, the future of urban design and architecture is incredibly promising. But we must embrace the opportunity offered by smart city technology and engage as a profession to help shape community-focused, participatory processes to apply this technology, so that its benefits are ultimately equitable and sustainable. See how data-driven green design can help you make an impact on your communities by scheduling a demo!