All posts by Juliette Davret

Exploring the Irish planning data ecosystem for the 74th World Town Planning Day

World Town Planning Day Logo

On November 8, 2023, to mark the occasion of the 74th World Town Planning Day, the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) hosted the themed webinar ‘Learn Globally, Apply Locally’. The theme focused on the value of learning about planning systems and cultures around the world, fostering innovative, sustainable and equitable solutions to global challenges.

The Data Stories team used this opportunity to present work carried out during the summer of 2023 on the Irish planning data ecosystem. We were joined by Claragh Mulhern, from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with a presentation titled ‘Planning Action for a Just Transition to a Net Zero Climate Resilient World’ and Sinéad O’Donoghue, from the Land Development Agency, with a presentation titled ‘From Depots to Duplexes – Reimagining Public Land’. Over 100 people registered for the event and many represented international backgrounds. 

The work presented by the Data Stories team identified and mapped the numerous data systems and flows across different planning stages and clients. These mappings were derived from analysis of documentation and system demos received from, and interviews conducted with, a sample of Local Authority planners and other stakeholders involved in producing and managing planning data in Ireland.  

The presentation sought to communicate something of the complexity of the data ecosystem, as well as the extent of variation and drift between different systems, properties which make it difficult to produce reliable and comparable official statistics. The presentation concluded with a set of high-level observations and recommendations, with a hope that the improved understanding of the ecosystem provided by this project can help in working towards a greater degree of standardisation across systems, and in turn to more accurate, detailed information for informing transparent and coherent planning decisions.

You can find further information, including a recording of the webinar as well as our presentation slides, on the Irish Planning Institute website. 

We would like to thank and acknowledge the various consultees who took the time to meet with us and supply data as requested. 

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A collaborative workshop between student unions and the DDPA

On Saturday, November 4, 2023, Juliette Davret, postdoctoral researcher on Data Stories, and two of the project artists, Joan Somers Donnelly and Augustine O’Donoghue, took part in a workshop organized by the Dublin Democratic Planning Alliance (DDPA) in cooperation with Student Unions to work on the issue of student housing.

DDPA Student Housing Workshop Poster
Source: DDPA – Sudent Housing: A Collaborative Workshop

The importance of providing student accommodation in Ireland lies in meeting the growing needs associated with the increasing demand for higher education. This demand, both nationally and internationally, is putting significant pressure on the student housing market. Ensuring fair access to education and promoting student well-being are central issues, while adequate housing conditions contribute to the attraction and retention of talent. However, Ireland faces major issues such as housing shortages, high rents and precarious living conditions, requiring coordinated intervention between government, educational institutions and the private sector to develop sustainable and affordable solutions. Resolving these challenges is crucial to the continued success of the education system, the well-being of students and the country’s economic development. 

The three-hour workshop brought together built environment and housing practitioners from Ireland and Europe, students and student unions representing third-level institutions in Dublin and was divided into different parts. The first part focused on gathering perspectives on housing issues from attendees. Several students gave short presentations highlighting the issues they see as key in today’s political landscape. Then, divided into working groups by table, attendees brainstormed a word to express a common feeling about the student housing situation. The working group including Data Stories team members chose the following words: grim, bad, expensive, mouldy, oversubscribed, stress, insecure, transient. Clearly, attendees did not hold positive feelings about the housing situation. Eventually they settled on ‘expensive insecurity’.

The Data Stories team at the DDPA Student Housing Workshop.

Later in the day, various experts gave presentations, each focusing on a specific theme related to the wider context of housing, data systems, investment and social protection in Ireland and Europe. Many individuals spoke, including Dara Turnbull (Housing Europe), Carole Pollard (RIAI) and László Molnárfi (TCDSU). Following the presentations, participants worked in small groups to explore one particular theme in greater depth. The working group including Data Stories team members worked specifically on the question of “Digital and Data-Driven Decision Making: Understanding the imperative for incorporating digital data-driven systems within Irish policy-making processes.”. Discussing this issue in a multi-stakeholder workshop was a way of enriching the Data Stories project team’s experience in order to understand the data generated and used to address the housing issue for students.

According to the DDPA, they will produce a report condensing the participants’ comments. The Data Stories team looks forward to reading this report.

The DDPA recommended the following material as preparation for the workshop:


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Data Stories at the Conference of Irish Geographers 2023

Last week the Data Stories team attended the 54th annual Conference of Irish Geographers (CIG) in Wexford. Members of the team presented in three sessions related to planning and housing over the course of the conference.

Dr. Samuel Mutter and Dr. Carla Maria Kayanan kicked us off with  a paper that used concepts from critical data studies to query the resilience of Dublin’s housing data system, warning of the pitfalls of data being deployed without theory. This paper was part of the session “Questioning the resilience of neoliberal urbanism: Empirical memories, plans, and glitchy urban resilience”.

Dr. Samuel Mutter and Dr. Carla Maria Kayanan.

Next up, Prof. Rob Kitchin presented a paper on charting the Irish housing data ecosystem and building an open knowledge hub in the session “Social movement and research: Housing”. This paper highlighted the value of looking at the data ecosystem to understand and address the housing crisis in Ireland.

Prof. Rob Kitchin

Finally, Creative Technologist Oliver Dawkins presented a paper on social housing data and contested data narratives in the Dublin housing data system for the session “Housing for whom? The future of social housing”. Oliver’s presentation developed the theme of ‘care through data’ focusing on the growing use of data stories in the communication of housing and planning issues.

Oliver Dawkins

Team members Lorena Borges Dias, Dr. Jennie Day and Dr. Juliette Davret also contributed work and ideas for the papers and cheered on the presenters throughout the conference. This was the first time the entire team travelled together to present their work and meet with other geographers from across Ireland and beyond. We would like to thank our session convenors and the wider Geographical Society of Ireland for the success of the CIG conference.

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