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From analogue to digital. Efforts to promote a digital planning process (2014:3)

Statskontoret (the Swedish Agency for Public Management) has been commissioned by the government to clarify whether there is any action that can be taken, by the government, in order to capitalize on the benefits of a digital planning process.

A digital planning process may mean profits for both municipal and state as well as the general public and developers. A digital planning process also contributes to the society as a whole, as it is one of several possible actions that could generate better conditions for a more efficient market for the construction of new housing.

Today however, as we concluded in our report, municipalities and agencies do not work in a digital planning process manner, although there are isolated pockets of own initiatives.

Uniformity and coordination are preconditions

In order for a digital planning process to be implemented, such requires uniformity and coordination. A digital planning process involves multiple stakeholders that exchange information digitally. A digital planning process means that the information needed in the process is available and usable in a digital way, i.e. a digital information service. This requires that agencies and municipalities provide and receive digital information in a uniform format and use common definitions of the information content.

State efforts are needed

Statskontoret's survey shows that neither municipalities nor developers are pursuing a digital planning process approach. The state thereby has an important role to play to cast focus on the issue and create conditions for uniformity and coordination. This requires multiple initiatives that are dependent on each other. Statskontoret submits proposals for initiatives that the government can take to promote a digital planning process.

A national e-strategy for a digital planning process

Statskontoret proposes that the government takes the initiative for a national e-strategy in order for a digital planning process to be implemented. It is imperative that all the affected stakeholders are involved in the work and therefore the strategy should be developed jointly. Within the framework of the e-strategy, a number of measures are taken: a vision is developed, areas of intervention are identified, action plans are formulated and monitoring is performed. The e-strategy can then be seen as a further step in the development of an e-government.

Boverket should have regulatory powers

To ensure uniformity, the government should give Boverket (The Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) the right to issue rules for planning regulations and planning documents. As a result, Boverket is also given responsibility for concepts for the sections of the Planning and Building Act that include detailed development plans. Uniform definitions are necessary to bring about a digital planning process with e-services that require a digital information service of the plan information.

Agencies should lead by example

The government should set requirements on the agencies concerned to transfer to a digital planning process. An initial step is to require that all the relevant agencies switch to a digital way of working, which means all documents should be processed digitally.

Development resources for collaboration with the business community

The government should render a government commission with development resources to the project for the cohesive detailed development planning and property registration process, known as the SPF project. Within the project, there is accumulated knowledge and experience, one that is valuable to build upon. The development resources should be used to continue collaboration with the business community in order to develop a specification of requirements for the services and interfaces needed to hold together the digital planning process.

National database for planning rules

The government can take the initiative to establish a national database for detailed development plan regulations. A national database can also promote municipal application of uniform definitions and interfaces, and ease the transition to a digital planning process in smaller municipalities. Furthermore, national information can be made available that is currently not yet available for collection. A national database is likely to both facilitate and accelerate the transition towards a digital planning process.

Free access to geodata

The government can take the initiative to investigate the potential for agencies to make geo-data available for free in order to stimulate the development of a digital planning process.