2018 – A new year, a new start
January 5, 2018
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Happy New Year!

New year eves are the opportunity to start from a clean slate, correct? A time to stop and think what happened in the past 365 days, the good, the bad, and the learning opportunities.

2017 has been immensely rewarding. I have continued spanning the boundary between an academic occupation, including teaching at university level, whilst building a business in the space of government technology. In September, I went part-time to give more space to cater to clients’ projects.

All in all, 2017 was a productive year to set some ground work at PlaceChangers Ltd. In the early part of the year, we worked on an exciting project with the Future Cities Catapult in London, which was a three-month research and design project for developing a new product for the production of housing land supply data in local authorities. This has been hugely rewarding, involving traveling to Manchester to run a design sprint workshop with our design agency Bliss Ltd; or travelling down to London for pitching events and meetings with other founders who came with equally interesting ideas for how to improve the planning system.

Perhaps 2017 should be subtitled ‘building of the future of planning’. Thus far, our contribution has perhaps remained modest, and pilots with local authorities proved harder to organise than expected. Yet, 2018  we can build on a strong foundation and start engaging and reengaging with our partners and those who want to join our team.

At the University, I continued developing and improving a module that teaches planning students the basics of web application design specialised for the urban technology market. A design sprint model is used with all the related activities, such as engaging  users, handling expectations, and pitching ideas to their clients. As far as I can tell, the second iteration of this module worked extremely well. Working with projects from Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, and a resident association, students seemed extremely confident and ready to assimilate all knowledge how to conceptualise and design interactive application prototypes. I look forward to see the feedback from all participants involved. Perhaps this practical work students enjoy invalidates approaches to learning detached from the world of practice as is perhaps not as uncommon in tertiary education.

Hopefully for 2018, a time of fruitful consolidation will be in store. That means we continue run interesting projects with interesting clients and project partners making a good impact. I look forward to develop a capacity as a instructor in product management and I have accepted an invitation to a Train the Trainer event with Mind the Product. I also look forward to keep getting involved in problem solving for local authorities, house builders, particularly in relation to interesting urban spaces, and to continue to humanise plan making and the technologies that support city development.

Thanks for reading. Good luck for your plans for 2018, the big and small!

Let’s make it happen.