Today marks 70 years of celebrating World Town Planning Day. The RTPI have identified three core themes to explore at this key milestone – ‘Reflect, Connect and Innovate’.

Whilst thinking of these themes we wondered, as most do in business, what do we mean by innovation? Connecting in communication, or reflecting on how changes to planning regulations are understood? One could make a simple assumption that in planning, innovation means digitisation or improvements in technology.

We however question that. Yes, technology has improved developments with greater quality and access to information and has significantly improved how we communicate. But, does that replace the time we need to connect with the communities we work in? Are we left asking ourselves...”Does the improved inter-connectivity have the potential to actually degrade quality interaction and debate?”  Furthermore, as key contributors to shaping the spaces we live, work and play, can technology and statistics replace the engagement needed to understand human behaviour?

As a profession, we adapt and embrace the digital world, and rightly so. But as with everything in life, we need to find the right balance. We are living in an increasingly paperless environment, yet some of us still pour over our beloved plans with a scale ruler to ensure every detail is met.

In a world of immediate access and online communication, how can the sector innovate using our people and our minds to connect with communities and to develop greater social interaction that supports society, sustainability and the environment we live in? In my opinion, innovation is key, but it’s good to talk.