For streets as places: Serendipity, bravery and data!

By Adam Beck | Program Lead, Future of Place

Join us for this online discovery session associated with the Future of Place project hosted by the Smart Cities Council. The topic of discovery – street space allocation.

There is no space in the public realm more challenging yet full of opportunity than the street. This is being reflected in government policy making around road space allocation, placemaking proof of concepts by local Councils and the changing nature of mobility.

The COVID-19 health pandemic has highlighted many of these issues - indeed it has accelerated thinking, and action and investment into doing things differently in the street.

So, what is changing in the street, and what are the new visions emerging for how this public space is being allocated?

Well, we pulled together an extraordinary panel of guests to discuss this. Our guests included:

At times we were having the same conversation we were having last year, the year before that and the decade before that - streets as places for people, please!

However our interactive session with the audience provided some focus for the Future of Place Task Force who will now move forward to further work on these necessary strategies.

Following the identification of outcomes, and barriers to change, the group highlighted some priority action areas, namely:

  • A data collection framework that supports the quantification of street space value

  • Scenario testing of space use and community and economic benefit

  • Targets to guide policy, planning an design practices

We captured the discussion below as the group shared their views.

A PDF of the discovery board is available to download below.

F_P_Street Space Allocation
Download PDF • 16KB

But here's the thing...

With the rapidly expanding capability of data gathering and insights generation among the smart cities community, it may now be possible to accelerate our ability to generate business cases that help support the bravery needed to amend policy, and our practice.

Street design based on economic spend data, combined with location insights of movement and pedestrian traffic could soon become the norm. Layer in our dialogue in March on the future of the kerbside, and you start to build a rich picture of value creation.

However, while every proof of concept of a pop-up might demonstrate value through data - its people, politics and power that reign in the decision making process.

With post-pandemic politics favouring place, and a data insights capability like never before - could we see a new value framework for street design emerge?

These issues and priority areas will now be carried forward and used by the Future of Place Task Force to embed into the continued discovery of this thematic area for the Future of Place Handbook.

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