Easily accessible data 'could transform building'

Wider and better use of data could lead to huge improvements in the way our buildings are developed, a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) report suggests – although it adds that the government needs to make sure such data is easily available to all.

The report Designing with data: Shaping our future cities, produced by RIBA and Arup, says wider use of data could lead to cheaper experimentation and testing of designs before construction begins, and greater consultation with potential users.

All this, it says, could speed up the construction process, saving time and money and resulting in better and more affordable design.

But the report says it is not just central and local government that could benefit from analysing this data, but professionals such as planners and architects too.

RIBA president Stephen Hodder said he hoped the report would signal the end of “clunky planning application websites with their overly long reference numbers and multitude of pointless scanned documents”.

He said: “Data collection needs to be standardised across the country, easily accessible and open to everyone. The RIBA is looking to a future where data will enable architects to unleash their creativity in ways that are currently too expensive or time consuming to create the best buildings possible. We need the Government to ensure this data is harnessed by local authorities and made available for architects, developers, residents groups, charities, and business so they can make the best use of it.”

Report author Lean Doody, who is lead consultant on smart cities at Arup, said: “We have all been in situations when we are frustrated by our environment. Analysis of open data provides the possibility of avoiding this, and we are already seeing some exciting government initiatives in the UK around this. This report illustrates the positive practical and economic benefits of using open data, and in doing show demonstrates the necessity for its wider use.”

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