e-Planning, an emerging field
The fast progress on information and communication technologies (ICT) enabled significant advances on both private and public sectors. In particular, new ICT brings new conditions for improving government (including e-Government), public administration and key services of public interest, whether provided by the state, civil society institutions or private enterprises. But new conditions bring also new problems and raise many new questions, that go beyond using Internet for public services and re-shaping these services to better adjust to the new reality of the information society.
e-Planning is a new scientific area of inquiry that is emerging to address a substantive part of these issues. Its focus is to study and develop the interaction between ICT and Planning, which requires in-depth research and development on both ICT and Planning domains.
Planning is a wide-breath discipline, addressing from policy making to implementation, from institutional analysis to regulatory frameworks, from decision-making to public participation. Planning is therefore a key layer interfacing Government and Citizens, as well Government and Citizens' organized activity, be it for profit or non-profit, whether of social, economic or cultural nature. Such interface is the level where most new problems and questions arise, when we seek to introduce new information and communication technologies.
However, the scientific traditions on Planning differ considerably between USA and Portugal (and most EU). Unlike in the USA (and MIT), there is no “School of Planning” in Portugal, where it is distributed by many different schools (Environment, Economy, Sociology, Landscape Architecture, Urbanism, Civil Engineering, etc). We see these different traditions as both a challenge and an opportunity for a collaboration between MIT and Portuguese Academia. By cross-pollinating both Portugal and USA scientific rich traditions that are its foundation, we will be in a position to give a unique and strong contribution to build the new, emerging e-Planning field.