Dec 7, 2011

Social media and its ignored role in planning process

By- Anoop Jha

Utilising Background noise of social media for better planning

There is always a resistance and hesitance to change, resistance to adapt to new technology, new methods, new thoughts. Same is the case of age old planning procedure. Take for example surveys and participatory planning. Surveys both primary and secondary play a very important role in any Urban and regional planning endeavor and project of any scale and nature, implemented through any agency whether private or Govt. or PPP. Also due to rigidity and shortsightedness of planning process we forgot to include the recently emerged but powerful segment of social structure called Social Media whose feedback and opinion matters a lot. Tech savvy active segment of population who emerged in recent past feel responsible as a citizen to express their feeling towards variety of issues including any particular development and planning issues and projects, some of these collective thoughts out of the massive online “junk opinions” can prove to be a very valuable asset if filtered, tracked, interpreted and incorporated in the project being discussed or for any planning issue in general.  

Social Media feedbacks for planning process and projects are either underestimated due to pre-determined age old procedural guidelines for planning process including, surveys, community participation and feedback, or are untapped due to shear abundance of it. Current situation is that a substantial number of people give their opinion and feedback and willing to share more on some ongoing project as well as project under pipeline, but planners and responsible authorities do not feel responsible even to listen to these valuable inputs coming from background noise of the social media. All these efforts of individuals and groups go into the vain in most of the cases.    

Enabling and channelizing the online focused planning communities like dedicated discussion forums, blogs, social networking sites and online professional communities in the positive direction to get a feedback on a particular project can radically alter the way projects being planned and implemented.  
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