Skip to main content

When and how to marry formal and informal planning

Submitted by jesse_berst on July 16, 2013

In a rambling post from the public policy publication, two co-authors from the Forum for the Future meander through several topics before getting to a point that may sound trite at first, but actually is quite important.

James Goodman and Jacqueline Culleton have been dialoging with cities from developing nations in the Southern Hemisphere. They argue that "informal" forces are most powerful in those regions -- changes that bubble up from the bottom. They contend that traditional, top-down planning fails to capture the energy and ideas from the "informal" economy.

Of course -- and this is a point we are emphasizing strongly in our forthcoming Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide -- top down planning does not have to ignore the grassroots. In fact, you can and should involve a wide range of stakeholders right from the start. And you can and should start small, with projects that can pay off quickly.

Happily, the authors agree, saying that "we can get the best of both 'top down' and 'bottom up' development. We agree, and we suggest you skim this article for its findings and for its links to a series of workshops in cities around the world. -- Jesse Berst


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.