Massachusets Institute of Technology
Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning

Fall 2023 Seminar on



Lunch Speaker Series

Associated Class

Associated Symposium

Fall 2023, Sept-Dec Monday's, 12-2PM Thursdays, 2h30-4PM 9-10, 13 November 2023

Local Index: Introduction; SPEAKERS; Guidelines; Dates & Schedule; Participation; Moderators; Topics; Research Questions; Science Committee; Book; REGISTER (

Urban Science and Digital Transition: e-Planning, twenty years later

updated: 7 December 2023 (reload page for last update)

Tuesday, December 12

(Final e- Planning Fall session)

Moderators & DUSP Faculty

MIT-DUSP 9.217, 4h30 - 6 PM

ICPPIT23, Nov 10

Message to ICPPIT23 from the National Secretary for Social Consultation, Ministry of Presidency, Government of Brasil

Renato Simões

MIT-DUSP "City Arena", 9h00 AM

ICPPIT23, Nov 13

Message to ICPPIT23 from the President of the National Association of Municipal Assemblies of Portugal

Albino Almeida

MIT-DUSP 9.217, 5h30 PM


The Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP) at MIT is offering this fall 2023, the Lunch Speaker Series Seminar on "Urban Science and Digital Transition: e-Planning: twenty years later", on Mondays, 12h30-2 PM, City Arena, Room 9-255. The kick-off, welcome session, was Tuesday, October 3, 2023

This Seminar is associated with a Joint undergrad / graduate for-credit course ("e-Planning & Digital Transition"), and linked to an international symposium (ICPPT23), to (re)examine the impact of information technologies on community life and governance, anticipate the implications for urban futures, and debate relevant DUSP strategies for the next twenty years.

The nature of this e-Planning Seminar, its rationale and structure is detailed in the Welcome & General Information page, and further discussed here.

We are especially interested in engaging a young generation, faculty and students, that can greatly benefit from this legacy - 20 years of the e-Planning approach

Fall 2023 is the 20th anniversary of our first ‘e-Planning Seminar,' also offered as a Speaker Series with guest talks and MIT faculty as discussants, an accompanying weekly for-credit seminar, and an International Conference on "Information Technologies and Public Participation" (ICPPT03). That conference plus the weekly for-credit seminar, was organized by Pedro Ferraz de Abreu shortly after he finishedv his DUSP PhD. Many DUSP faculty, together with Joseph Ferreira, like Bish Sanyal, Larry Vale, Karen Polenske, Mel King and others, worked with Pedro Ferraz de Abreu and participated in the 2003 events.

The Fall 2023 e-Planning Seminar is a good opportunity to reflect on our framing of ‘urban science' issues two decades ago in order to stimulate deeper discussion of what we mean by the term today, how its pursuit furthers DUSP strategic objectives, and the ways in which we think urban science-related education and research should progress. By looking carefully at past and current thoughts about information technology's influence on community life, urban redevelopment, and governance, we hope to foster a deeper look into the impacts and implications of the ongoing ‘digital transition' on social inequality and participatory planning, examining multi-disciplinary perspectives on the community planning and local governance

The Fall 2023 seminar and symposium complements current DUSP classes.

[more in-depth discussion, further down this page, "e-Planning Research Questions Revisited"]


Joseph Ferreira Jr. (
Pedro Ferraz de Abreu (

Guest Speakers:

For the International Symposium, check ICPPIT23 Program

The e-Planning Seminar benefits from several MIT Faculty Speakers and Discussants, as well Speakers from other Institutions and Countries, Researchers and / or Practioners, that bring added value insights.

October 3, 2023 Tuesday 4h30-6 PM
Inaugural Session

Joseph Ferreira (Moderator)

former DUSP Heads in the past 25 Years

  • MIT-DUSP Head, 1994 to 2002; chair of the entire MIT faculty 2007 to 2009.
    Bish Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning and Director of the Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS)/ Hubert Humphrey program at MIT-DUSP.

  • MIT-DUSP Head, 2002 to January 2009
    Larry Vale, MIT-DUSP Associate Dean, Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning at MIT-DUSP.

  • MIT-DUSP Head, 2013 to 2020.
    Eran Ben-Joseph, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at MIT-DUSP

    Pedro Ferraz de Abreu,Professor of e-Planning, Catedratico Conv. (ret, U. Lisboa), MIT Visiting Scholar

  • Prof. Joseph Ferreira, Intro
  • Prof. Bish Sanyal
  • Prof. Larry Vale
  • Prof. Eran Ben-joseph
  • Prof. Pedro Ferraz de Abreu
  • Prof. Joseph Ferreira, Closing

  • October 16, 2023 Monday Lunch, 12h-2PM

    TOPICS: Geography of Inequality, Digital Sovereignty, Technology Innovation and Property Rights

    Christopher Zegras, Professor of Mobility and Urban Planning, Department Head

  • Welcome

    Joseph Ferreira, Professor (Post-Tenure) of Urban Information Systems
  • e-Planning & Urban Science Seminar Roadmap

    Pedro Ferraz de Abreu, Professor of e-Planning, Catedratico Conv. (ret, U. Lisboa), MIT Visiting Scholar
  • The Cost of Free: Understanding the new equation relating technology, market economy, regulation, privacy and power.

    Discussants (MIT-DUSP):
    Amy Glasmeier, Professor of Economic Geography and Regional Planning
    Jason Jackson, Associate Professor in Political Economy and Urban Planning

  • Session Leaflet
  • Chris Zegras, Welcome
  • Pedro Ferraz de Abreu

  • October 23, 2023 Monday Lunch, 12h-2PM

    TOPICS: Urban Mobility and Smart Cities, Urban Science, AI & Computing

    Pedro Ferraz de Abreu (Moderator)

    Jinhua Zhao, Professor of Cities and Transportation, MIT-DUSP

  • A.I. for Human Capital Development in the Future of Work

    Discussants (MIT-DUSP):
    Andres Sevtsuk, Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning
    Joseph Ferreira, Professor (post-tenure) of Urban Information Systems

  • Session Leaflet

  • October 30, 2023 Monday Lunch, 12h-2PM

    TOPICS: Digital Social Media, Local Government and Citizen Empowerment

    Lucie Laurian, Chair of the Planning Department, SUNY at Buffalo, NY, USA

  • Elected officials' planning priorities and decisions: Mining social media data for transparency, not curated manipulation

    Sarah Williams, Associate Professor of Technology & Urban Planning, MIT-DUSP
    Cong Cong, Lecturer of  Urban  Science and Planning, MIT-DUSP

  • Session Leaflet

  • November 6, 2023 Monday Lunch, 12h-2PM (City Arena, Room 9-255)

    TOPIC: Climate Change and Energy & Digital Transitions

    Vera Viviane Schmidt Abomorad, Assessora de Inovação e Integração, Prefeitura Municipal de Santa Helena-PR, Brasil

  • Energy transition in the digital age: sustainable and intersectoral cases from western Paraná State, Brazil

    David Hsu, Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, MIT-DUSP
    Claudio Ballande, Professor, IFSP, Brasil

  • Session Leaflet

  • November 9, 2023 Thursday, 2h30-4PM "Open Class" (MIT-DUSP Stella Room)

    TOPICS: Sovereignty, Externalities, and Property Rights; Public Policy, Institutions and Regulation in the context of new ICT; Geopolitics of Development in the Information Society

    Joseph Ferreira, Professor (post-tenure) of Urban Information Systems

    Christopher Zegras, Professor of Mobility and Urban Planning, Department Head

  • Welcome

    Omar Razzaz, Harvard U. & MIT-DUSP Alumn, Former Prime-Minister of Jordan
  • Governing Global Public Goods and Bads

    Pedro Ferraz de Abreu,Professor of e-Planning, Catedratico Conv. (ret, U. Lisboa), MIT Visiting Scholar

  • Session Poster

  • November 9, 10, 2023 - ICPPIT23

  • November 9, 2023, Thursday
    • 2h15 PM: Registration & Reception (MIT-DUSP Stella Room)
    • 2h30 PM Welcome By Chris Zegras, DUSP Head (MIT-DUSP Stella Room)
    • 2h40-4h00 PM Keynote, Omar Razzaz (MIT-DUSP Stella Room)
    • 4h15-6h00 PM Welcome Meeting (MIT-DUSP Stella Room)
    • 7h00 PM: Conference Dinner
  • November 10, 2023, Friday
    • 8h30 AM Registration, Room 9-255
    • 8h45 AM - 6h00 PM Conference Sessions, Room 9-255
    • 6h15 PM Closure (MIT-DUSP Stella Room)

    November 13, 2023 Monday Lunch, 12h-2PM

    TOPICS: Digital Inclusion, Local Government and Citizen Empowerment

    Bárbara Barbosa Neves, Faculty, Monash University, Australia

  • Designing and evaluating emerging technologies to address loneliness in later life: promises and pitfalls

    Catherine D'Ignasio

  • Session Leaflet

  • November 13, 2023 ICPPIT23 Talk, 3h30-5PM Room 9.217

    TOPICS: Digital Transition, Geopolitics and Citizen Empowerment

    A Conversation with...

    Carlos Branco, Major-General

  • Conflict resolution in Bosnia: Was it achieved almost twenty years after Dayon?

    Pedro Ferraz de Abreu,Professor of e-Planning, Catedratico Conv. (ret, U. Lisboa), MIT Visiting Scholar

  • Session Poster

  • November 27, 2023 Monday , 12h-2PM

    In Memoriam, Melvin King
    Communities, Technology & Citizen empowerment

    e-Planning Tutorial & Praticum

  • Pedro Ferraz de Abreu
  • Q & A on e-Planning Theory & Praxis
  • How to build an expert system
  • How to build a state machine

  • December 4, 2023 Monday Lunch, 12h-2PM

    Joint SPURS & e-Planning Fall 2023 Seminar Panel Session

    TOPIC: Promises and Pitfalls of Technology and Data in Planning


    Catherine D'Ignasio, Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning, MIT-DUSP
    Eric Robsky Huntley, Lecturer in Urban Science and Planning, MIT-DUSP
    Sarah Williams, Associate Professor of Technology & Urban Planning, MIT-DUSP
    Pedro Ferraz de Abreu,Professor of e-Planning, Catedratico Conv. (ret, U. Lisboa), MIT Visiting Scholar

  • Session Leaflet
  • slides

  • December 12, 2023 Tuesday snack, 4h30-6PM, 9.217


    TOPIC: e-Planning Fall Series Report, and DUSP Community Discussion
    Pedro Ferraz de Abreu
    Joseph Ferreira

    DUSP Faculty

  • Session Descriptor

  • e-Planning Research Questions Revisited

    DUSP Seminars on Technology and the City have contributed to understanding the urban planning implications of modern information and communication technologies (ICT). 20 years after the first edition of this Seminar, The new Seminar / Speaker Series 2023 on "e-Planning" builds on this experience and focuses on the new challenges and opportunities for ‘e-planning' as the reach of ICT extends far beyond the automation of traditional tasks.

    Towards a research agenda on e-Planning

    1. In the last 20 years, e-government became a normal standard, both in the US and abroad. Initially, we saw a multitude of independent initiatives towards improving the use of ICT in public services and public administration, mostly focused on using the Internet to facilitate information access and automation of services. Then, the trend has been toward centralization and consolidation of e-government efforts and, in some cases, a restructuring of the agencies involved. We are now observing the consolidation of central plans and central authorities, or even multi-national regional plans and agencies, which reach far beyond the traditional government IT branches, and are developing e-government strategies and policies touching all sectors in society and all branches of government.

    2. As expected, these "e-Government" efforts are impacting planning and setting the agenda for what might be called ‘e-Planning'. Such a trend is forcing planners to look beyond the (relatively) simple and obvious examples of service automation or public access to government information. In effect, will the centralized services move beyond efficient publishing and broadcasting in ways that promote meaningful dialogue among citizens and public/private interests? Shouldn't e-planning differ from e-government in that improved planning processes might involve many partners and less government?

    3. This evolution raises many new questions that go beyond re-shaping services. The trend towards a more central role of technology in Government and in Planning has come, somewhat paradoxically, as the technologies have greatly enhanced the prospects for disaggregated, spatial analyses and decentralized, community level planning.Reduced cost and improved technology has stimulated the rapid expansion of detailed, disaggregated data about land use and ownership, geography, infrastructure, environmental conditions, etc. along with new, sophisticated analytical tools and visualization techniques to make the best use of them.

    4. This dual trend poses new intellectual challenges at community/neighborhood as well as city/global levels, and it raises research questions on a breadth of issues, with emphasis on Public Participation, Privacy, Security and Freedoms, Institutional reform, and Environmental Planning. Furthermore, its study requires considerable knowledge and understanding of ICT's potential, not only of hardware and software, but also of powerful analytical tools, data mining, and communication strategies. "Big Data" is here to stay.

    5. Technology is bringing to the table a new wealth of data and parameters, at multiple levels, that were not available to planners before. Besides the well known issues of data filtering and evaluation, how does this data availability impact planning processes, levels and scope? How does it relate to the emergence of "neighborhood planning"? Can ICT facilitate de-centralization of urban revitalization and development efforts? Will it enable new forms of measuring the "performance" of a City, and of City Plans? Will these measures benefit ‘outside' regulators and lobbies or ‘inside' residents and community organizations? What kind of "Smart" do we want in our "smart cities", and how citizen agenda may differ with the "smart industry" business that grew to trillions of dollars?

    6. Technology is also the focus of attention in a world troubled with increased levels of insecurity and conflict / competition. How can Planning and IT contribute to a better grasp of the trade-offs among issues of security, human rights and freedoms? What are the new threats to privacy posed by the level of detail and accuracy of data collected in planning procedures and policy implementation? Do we accept the emerging "Curator" model, giving private giant technology companies, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, the power to regulate speech?

    7. Technology is facilitating citizen access to information at levels never experimented before. But this new trend towards government centrality, and IT business consolidation, may inform citizens without empowering them. What forms of public participation in decision-making are sought, enabled or deterred by the new policies? Are current technology development policies favoring citizen participatory models, or pushing back citizens to a consumer role?

    8. Technology is rapidly changing the public administration landscape. How is it impacting institutions and regulations? Is the new technology challenging the current institutional and regulatory framework for plan-making and urban development? What are adequate paths towards institutional and regulatory reform?

    9. New challenges in Planning, with or without an "e", cannot be understood separated from the challenges faced by the people that embody it. What is the role of a planner in this new scheme, between e-Government oriented policies and increased citizen pressure towards interactive planning? What new technology and analytical skills and competencies are required for the new generation of planners? How can we improve our current school curricula to correspond to these new requirements?

    10. 20 years ago, we raised many similar questions. What lessons did we learn from our experience? What new questions arise, that must be addressed? Where should we focus our future Research Agenda?

    Session Guidelines for Speakers and Discussants

    DUSP Seminar Speaker Series on "Urban Science & Digital Transition: e-Planning twenty years later" will be structured in 1.5h sessions, 12h30- 2 PM, as a "weekly lunch" on Monday's (lunch will begin at noon), City Arena, Room 9-255.

    Sessions with guest speakers, will have MIT faculty discussants;

    Monday lunch Presentations are expected to be generally structured along the following lines:

    All DUSP faculty will be invited to participate in one or more seminar or symposium sessions either as a presenter or as a discussant. SPURS fellows will also be encouraged to participate.
    The "e-Planning for Digital Transition" course will follow closely the guest sessions of the e-Planning Speaker Fall Series, and use them as a framework to compile key issues and research questions, together with a summary table of "who is who" and "who is doing what, where", concerning the identified major issues.

    Dates, Schedule, Location:

  • Speaker Series: October 3 - December 13, 2023
    - Monday lunch (12h), 12h30-2 PM (Seminar Speaker Sessions): City Arena, Room 9-255 (exceptions are noted)
    - First Session (Welcome): Tuesday, October 3, 2023, 16h30 , Room 9-451

  • Undergrad/graduate subject (3-credit course) : September 14 - December 7, 2023
    - Thursday 2h30-4 PM , Room 9-217
    - First Class (Welcome): Thursday, September 14, 2023

  • International Symposium: 9-10, November 2023
    - City Arena, Room 9-255

    Participation & Fees:

    - Open for all MIT students (Undergrad/Graduate), faculty & fellows (no fee) [REGISTER]
    - Fee-based participation for external participants, by invitation. Interested prospective participants may contact Seminar / Symposium moderators (,

    Seminar & Conference Topics

    Moderators: Joseph Ferreira Jr. ( & Pedro Ferraz de Abreu (
    (dates for session topics to be confirmed)
    ICT - Information and Communication Technologies

    Science Committee for Seminar Speaker Series and Symposium

    Book on "e-Planning":

    Based on recommendations from the Scientific Committee, Speakers for the "e-Planning" Speaker Series and the International Symposium will be invited to contribute chapters to  a book, "e-Planning for Digital Transition - With No One Left Behind," edited by the e-Planning co-chairs.

  • First e-Planning Seminar 2003, at MIT
  • Past ICPPIT Conferences:
  • e-Planning Consortium

  • CITIDEP (Research Center on Information Technologies and Participatory Democracy):

  • e-Planning Seminar 2003 - ICPPIT03 - ICPPIT99 (slide show)