Technological Innovation in Urban Planning in South Asia-Moving Towards Enhanced Community Engagement

Shahed Khan

Urban planning systems in South Asian countries are generally characterized by a top down planning approach often influenced by politicized patron­ client networks and bureaucracy. These have led to poor governance systems with entrenched corruption and a largely non-participatory planning approach. In this digital age, significant developments in information and communication technology (ICT) have facilitated the emergence e-governance that holds the promise of delivering good governance. It is hoped that, through e-governance, local governments could ensure efficiency and reduce corruption in the planning system, thereby improving the system's capacity for effective collaborative decision-making. Based on this hypothesis, the paper discusses the realities of urban government systems of some South Asian countries that affect the translation of theoretical possibilities into functioning local planning systems. We argue that technological innovations are required both in routine and repetitive tasks as well as in strategic planning and improved participatory decision­ making functions. This paper concludes that while the former tasks are readily supported by ICT systems, the latter are rarely incorporated in planning systems. While discussing the realities of urban government systems and the political context of South Asian cities that affect the translation of theoretical possibilities into practice, the paper contends that through e-governance local government should not only aim to ensure efficiency and reduced corruption in the planning systems but also promote effective collaborative decision­ making through effective participation