06/22
07/22
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ARL Congress 2022: A SMART future? Digitalisation: Challenges for spatial development

Introduction

  • The programme for the ARL Congress includes three keynote speeches by representatives from academia and practice, poster or video presentations addressing specific topics, and workshops on the following six topics:
  • 1. Provision of public services (particularly education, health and local services)
  • 2. Mobility
  • 3. Digital administration, e-governance
  • 4. Digital planning and participation
  • 5. Municipal finances – strategic investments in digitalisation
  • 6. International examples (hybrid workshop held in English)

A SMART future?

Digitalisation: Challenges for spatial development

30 June to 1 July 2022 in Bielefeld (Germany)

BACKGROUND AND TOPIC

Debates about digitalisation and its effects have been and continue to be of great social and political significance. Whereas some view it – with considerable scepticism – as an irreversible megatrend, others see it as both the foundation of future value creation with concomitant structural change and the solution to a wide range of problems. New forms of transport and the mobility transition, new ways of working and communicating, changes in the production of goods and logistics, current marketing strategies as well as the energy transition: all are based on digital products and information technologies.

The digital transformation impacts spatial development, and digitalisation is also affecting planning and administrative activities. Numerous opportunities will arise in the course of this sweeping social and technological transformation to a (digital) service- and knowledge-based society, but there will be challenges and risks as well. Homeschooling, working from home and online retail are all examples showing how digitalisation affects such fundamental categories as space and time. Spatiotemporal structures will be made more flexible or, in some cases, even eliminated. This has a social impact as well, affecting gender relationships and the division of labour, or leaving some regions, groups and social classes feeling left behind. In terms of ecology, both efficiency improvements and rebound effects can be imagined and expected. The actual spatial changes and the speed at which they take place will differ greatly and will always be marked by varying digital skills and opportunities, at home and at work, for access and participation. The effects on infrastructure, networks and specific locations, how they are shaped by planning, and the sociopolitical and ecological consequences are as yet not clearly foreseeable.

The expansion of internet and broadband access is the foundation of future access to education, work, services and goods. Infrastructure expansion is currently proceeding in fits and starts and with significant spatial variation (in Germany and internationally), mostly due to economic considerations. This exacerbates the spatial inequalities that already exist. Such variation in starting points is also illustrated by the different headings under which digitalisation is currently discussed. While the debate about digitalisation in urban areas is usually in relation to the ‘smart city’, the focus in rural areas is on the equivalence of living conditions, the digital divide and regional disadvantages. Rural areas and densely populated areas are affected differently by the processes of digitalisation and are restricted by their own path dependencies.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about an unexpected acceleration in the pace of digitalisation, with pre-pandemic time horizons shifting rapidly while deficits in implementation became and are becoming apparent.

KEY QUESTIONS

Digitalisation is having far-reaching and as yet not entirely foreseeable impacts on spaces and their social and economic functions and uses. The reference framework for the sessions at the ARL Congress in 2022 is socially inclusive and spatially sustainable development, both within Germany and within an international comparative context. The necessary conditions for such development will be examined in detailed discussions of the following questions:

  • What spatially relevant impacts can be observed, and which of them can be actively shaped?
  • What social and ecological impacts and opportunities are becoming apparent in connection with digitalisation?
  • What challenges are arising from digitalisation in terms of social justice and spatial equity?
  • How can spatial planning and spatial development take into account the strategies and objectives of digitalisation? Looking ahead, are the potentials, challenges and risks of digitalisation identifiable? And what fields of action arise from them for spatial planning and spatial development?
  • What is the role of planning institutions (urban, regional, federal state and sectoral) and ‘new’ stakeholder groups in terms of shaping spatial development processes in the digital age?
  • How are new requirements for data, georeferencing, big data, citizen science and artificial intelligence changing the spatial planner’s profession?
  • To what extent are the theories, approaches and tools of spatial and planning science suitable for understanding and managing these phenomena, and to what extent are they in need of further refinement?

Congress programme

The programme for the ARL Congress includes three keynote speeches by representatives from academia and practice, poster or video presentations addressing specific topics, and workshops on the following six topics:

  1. Provision of public services (particularly education, health and local services)
  2. Mobility
  3. Digital administration, e-governance
  4. Digital planning and participation
  5. Municipal finances – strategic investments in digitalisation
  6. International examples (hybrid workshop held in English)

 

The ARL Congress 2022 will take place in cooperation with the team 'REGIONALE 2022'.  The team 'REGIONALE 2022' at OWL GmbH is working on implementing the vision of the UrbanLand OstWestfalenLippe: https://www.urbanland-owl.de/ (in German only)

Click here for information in German. 

 

Timeline

Call for papers
Review and selection process
ARL Congress in Bielefeld, Germany

Updates

Discussion