MacKay Hannah

Data driven placemaking: how to deliver innovation with data

Fri 4th Feb 2022

SUPPORTERS All Supporters

OVERVIEW View Webinar Agenda

By 2050 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Scotland’s urban places have mountains of data but also infinite demand for services, living spaces and economic activity. Placemaking is one obvious answer to making more sustainable, rational decisions on where and how we live. COP 26 showed that without change, many communities globally will die and others everywhere face a dismal future. However public bodies, private companies and our people all act separately. Individual plans, decisions and actions often work against each other. Left untouched we will make poorer decisions, storing up problems for the future rather than placemaking better ways of living now. Therefore, we need to collect and harness valuable data to see the true picture of how our urban spaces are working and being used. That in turn needs to inform joined-up decision making to make better, viable, sustainable places. The question is, how do we achieve that?

This webinar explains the purpose, value and practice of data based placemaking. It will discuss the objectives of placemaking in the shaping of services and projects, the opportunities to support more prosperous competitive places and how to deliver effective placemaking in practice with data.

Across the public and private sectors, there is a growing awareness of - and focus on - place and placemaking, recognising two important principles. Public and private sector investment which reflects holistic planning across agency and service boundaries is more likely to be successful and better value for money. Decisions on services and projects which are informed and driven by the communities they are designed for will have higher levels of engagement and use. Collecting and interpreting available data is critical doing these things successfully.

Delivering effective data based placemaking requires a seamless approach to collecting data, interpreting it and using it to better inform decision making. Adopting a data based placemaking approach can enable public assets to be deployed collaboratively to deliver joined up services, give communities better outcomes, realise savings and efficiencies and facilitate greater economic growth. So, what are the practical steps required to foster and deliver this in Scotland?

Diarmaid Lawlor will consider the value of designing and delivering better public services using data. Yalena Coleman will discuss the role of data in placemaking for more prosperous, competitive places. Gemma Cassells will reflect on data, placemaking and a new idea of what local means. 

Key points 

  • Designing and delivering better public services using data
  • The role of data in placemaking for more prosperous, competitive places
  • Placemaking, data and a new idea of local
  • Using data informed decision making to empower communities and service deliverers
  • Getting serious about using data, where should you start?
  • What does successful data based placemaking look like?
  • What works and insights from delivery


Diarmaid Lawlor

Associate Director – Place, Scottish Futures Trust

Yalena Coleman

Solution Architect, Connected Places Catapult

Gemma Cassells

Lead Strategist – City Region Deal, Data Driven Innovation Initiative, University of Edinburgh

Catherine Topley

Chief Executive, Scottish Canals

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The conference had a wide range of speakers covering different aspects of likely new planning legislative procedures. I took something from all the speakers. It was a very interesting conference - both beneficial and informative. All speakers spoke well and contributed to a whole range of matters from different perspectives with their specific fields of expertise. My main interests were presented and debated well.

Charles Johnston, Scottish Borders Council,
Delegate at Planning in Scotland Conference 2017