From planning support systems to mediated planning support: a structured dialogue to overcome the implementation gap
Planning support systems (PSSs) are intended to facilitate relevant steps in planning processes; however, the academic evaluation of PSSs reveals many bottlenecks precluding a widespread use of these systems. A central weakness is the lack of communication between PSS developers (focusing on technical issues) and potential PSS users. Other academic fields such as knowledge management and technological innovation recognised similar bottlenecks years ago. On the basis of methods proposed in these fields, a new process architecture for the development of a PSS is proposed. Through a dialogue in which PSS developers and potential users discuss and use the PSS, existing tools, instruments, and models are refined and improved to be more useful to their potential users. The focus shifts away from the development of a technically more sophisticated support system, towards a process of PSS development which is intertwined with the planning process itself. This process architecture is called mediated planning support (MPS). We explore what can be learned from other academic domains and enquire about the applicability of these findings to PSS development. In Amsterdam the Department of Transport wanted to transform their transportation model into a land-use and transport PSS and their work illustrates how such a process architecture can link PSS developers and users in planning practice. We discuss the concepts behind MPS and use the case of Amsterdam to visualise its workings, lastly offering hypotheses on the method and suggestions for further research.
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