From Plan-Demanded Data to Plan-Ready Information: A Rationale for Comprehensive Urban Knowledge Infrastructures

BASED on our professional experience in urban planning in the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, and India, we recognize that cities often lack a comprehensive “knowledge infrastructure” on which to base planning decisions. Instead, what we discovered to be the most prevalent tendency for the various departments of a modern city is a form of “ad hoc-ism” whereby data are collected for specific purposes and then quickly forgotten or stored in inac- cessible places. Although some systematic data collection takes place—mostly for regulatory or revenue-generating purposes such as for permits, licenses, and property assessments—even these data are generally hard to obtain or utilize, quite often due to real or imaginary privacy concerns. Frequently, access to important information is made possible only through personal con- nections and by means of under-the-counter transfers which bypass official channels.