E-Planning Applications in Turkish Local Governments

E-Planning Applications in Turkish Local Governments

Koray Velibeyoglu (Izmir Institute of Technology, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-929-3.ch022

Abstract

This chapter examines the pivotal relationship between e-planning applications and their organizational context. It employs various evaluation frameworks by searching explicit and implicit structures behind the implementation process. The study is largely based on the statement that ‘the organizational and user dimension of implementation factors more than technical ones, constitute the main obstacles to the improvement of e-planning tools in urban planning agencies’. The empirical part of the study scrutinizes the personal and situational factors of users in the process of implementation, benefits and constraints of an e-planning implementation and planning practitioners’ perception of new technologies on urban planning practice and debate. Using a case study research in Turkish local governments, the findings of this study reveal that the organizational and human aspects of high order information systems are still the biggest obstacle in the implementation process.
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Introduction

An increasingly developmental role beyond the traditional role of service provision pushes city governments to be more proactive and inventive in the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs). For the purposes of city governments the role of ICTs encompasses a number of fields and actions like catalyzing economic development, inhibiting social inequality, controlling and managing urban development and supporting accessibility to local information and services. In urban development, ICTs contribute to management and monitoring of urban development through various e-applications and spatial information systems like geographical information systems (GIS). ICTs contribution to urban development, however, is closely aligned with the soft organizational realities (e.g., cultural, structural, political, personal factors) that are highly influential in the implementation of ICT-based systems and policies. Therefore, in order to understand the impacts of ICTs in organizations one should carefully look into the computer-aided work practice and everyday use of sound technological systems.

The chapter heavily draws on a comprehensive field study conducted in a sample of local government urban planning agencies of Turkey. The major question that lies behind this study is how organizational and human aspects of technological applications affect success and failure of e-planning. The study, then, addresses the soft organizational realities of e-planning applications.

The term e-planning applications used in this chapter refer to the use of ICTs and information systems to advance urban planning and management. Technological applications on which e-planning are based could be grouped into three categories (Budthimedhee et al., 2002). The first group of technologies refers to technologies about data management and distribution. The second is related with mapping and processing of spatial data that is vital for urban planning and management. The last group is composed of interface technologies, which are concerned with creating more effective information environments via representation and modeling.

The basis of the study is largely determined by the human factor. Therefore, e-planning applications of selected planning agencies is measured by using qualitative methods (through surveys and interviews), and the supporting documents based on respondents’ perceptions. The user surveys sketch the profile of a planning practitioner in three ways: (1) personal and technological background (e.g. age, sex, education, computer literacy, job title, duration of work), (2) technical knowledge on e-planning applications (3) attitude toward new technologies and their future role in planning practice and debate. Interviews also provide background information on the obstacles and benefits derived from e-planning applications in case study organizations.

This study has three parts. Firstly, as a background, the chapter includes a historical overview of ICTs and e-planning in Turkish case. Then, soft organizational realities of e-planning are exemplified in the selected Turkish local governments. An empirical study reveals the current state of e-planning applications in respondent local governments. It also scrutinizes planning practitioner’s commitment and dependence on e-planning applications in practice. The chapter concludes with lessons learnt from e-planning in the case study organizations and with a prospective research agenda on the organizational dimension of ICTs for urban planning agencies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Planning Support System (PSS): Is an integrative system in urban planning consisting of a combination of geographic information system, a broad range of computer-based models and a variety of visualization tools for presenting the results of the models.

Local E-Government: Refers to information, services or transactions that local governments provide online to citizens using Internet and Web sites.

Urban Information System (UIS): Is a powerful means for governments in meeting long-term strategic planning and management challenges. It provides a heightened awareness of the interdependency among environmental, social, and economic health and the impact of decisions made by neighboring jurisdictions, government agencies, and private business.

Spatial Data: Any information about the location and shape of, and relationships among, geographic features, usually stored as coordinates and topology.

Pentagon-Prism model: An assessment methodology in order to identify critical success factors in urban policy. It includes a systematic investigation into five necessary conditions: hardware (the tangible investments), software (the investment in knowledge), orgware (the organizational structure), finware (the financial aspects) and ecoware (the effects on the ecology).

Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS): Is a spatial information system supporting decision making process related to complex spatial problems such as determining the optimal location of public services such as educational institutions or public parks.

SWOT Analysis: Is a scan of the internal and external environment as an important part of the strategic planning process. Environmental factors internal to the organization usually can be categorized as strengths (S) or weaknesses (W), and those external to the organization can be classified as opportunities (O) or threats (T).

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