How COVID Affects Decision Making in Planning? The Use of ICT in Planning Boards’ Hearings

Mualam, Nir (2021) How COVID Affects Decision Making in Planning? The Use of ICT in Planning Boards’ Hearings. CITIES 20.50 – Creating Habitats for the 3rd Millennium: Smart – Sustainable – Climate Neutral. Proceedings of REAL CORP 2021, 26th International Conference on Urban Development, Regional Planning and Information Society. pp. 387-392. ISSN 2521-3938

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The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of COVID-19 on decision-making in planning. Put differently, how the shift to video-conference meetings has influenced the processes associated with land use planning. We discuss this issue by looking at the shift of Israeli planning boards to online meetings. Since March 2020 decision-making has changed from face-to-face meetings between planners, public officials, and stakeholders to an online mode of decisions and meetings using a range of tools including, but not limited to Zoom and Teams. The lessons learned in Israel are relevant and applicable to other countries where similar shifts to online \ virtual hearings took place in 2020. Everywhere, and globally, state and local governments have found new ways to enable the continuation of planning hearings and meetings; these remain uninterrupted, amid new requirements for social distancing. New laws enabled planning boards at the local, regional, and national levels to make decisions without meeting face-to-face. Notably, the Israeli regulations are but one example. In other countries, such as in the US and the UK, national and local governments have introduced similar policies and guidelines that enable, or even mandate, planning boards to shift their mode of operations to include online meetings -usually through ZOOM, TEAMS, SKYPE softwares (Thomas, 2020). COVID19 has therefore had a major impact on the way planning is conducted around the world. These new regulations are important, as they have facilitated the continuity of policymaking in the field of planning. They also enabled planning boards to cope with their workload as no meetings had been held for months due to social distancing requirements. The shift to online decision-making was praised by the professionals and media as rather successful (Steuteville, 2020), saving time, travel costs, and making planning more accessible via the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). On the face of it, COVID19, as a crisis, also held the promise of expediting the assimilation of technology in the planning process. It was therefore an opportunity to reconsider the way in which planning is carried out and to make it better, less bureaucratic, and more transparent. To examine these issues, we initiated a survey among practicioners who participated in online (Zoom) meetings held by planning boards. In particular we ask: • What do participants in online decision-making think about this new mode of communication? How satisfied are they? • Compared with face-to-face engagements, what are the major pitfalls and advantages of online decision-making in planning? The findings suggest that attendees is online meetings acknowledge the importance and advantages of ICT in facilitating planning discussions during the pandemic. However, they also flag some problems and challenges associated with this tool.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The author would like to extend his gratitude to Mr. David Max for his assistance throughout this study.
Uncontrolled Keywords: virtual hearings, decision making, pandemic, Covid-19, planning boards
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2021 12:44
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2021 17:24

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