In an interview with Tygron, Edward de Wit, a senior policy officer, shares his experiences in using the Tygron Geodesign Platform.
Edward de Wit is a senior policy officer working by the Authorization and Supervision department by one of the big Dutch municipalities. In his work, he is currently using the Tygron Geodesign Platform in a project about nitrogen pollution where he aims to gain insights into the nitrogen deposition caused by the building sites. Having considerable experience in using the Platform, de Wit shares in an interview with Tygron insights on affordances of the software, its practical applications and the data culture within the municipality.
Tygron Platform for the Environmental and Planning Act
According to de Wit, the innovation to the public management that Tygron brings, is of value in the light of the new Environmental and Planning Act which will be put to work in January 2021. One of the aims of the new law is making the spatial laws simpler and more accessible to the citizens. A solution which would help reach this goal is the so called Digtaal Stelsel Omgevingswet (DSO), a system which would let the citizen view an area on which he wants to build and show him on a map if his building plans are aligned with the rules posed by the government. Such way of verifying building plans would simplify the long and complicated procedure of applying for building permit. According to de Wit, such shift in the law is only possible once the government possesses the right tools to support such functions. Tygron, among other simulation software is suitable for this purpose. Even though the technical base for such innovations already exists, the government is cautious with handing such tools into the hands of the citizens not only because of financial matters but also because of the possible mistake margin of the calculations and the prediction performed by such software. Therefore, according to de Wit, the incorporation of simulation software in the permit assigning process is a discussion point in the government agenda, but only in distant future.
Data culture within the municipality
In the department where de Wit works, there is not so much scepticism about the data used for the calculations in the Tygron Platform. The data which is used for the calculations belongs to the department and is accepted as the truth. In their work, the employees of the Authorization and Supervision department are also making use of the Aerius model developed by the province, therefore they do not feel the need to verify the data. Asked about the general data culture within the municipality, de Wit says that the institution has at its disposal a general ICT and data department. The municipality has however ambitious plans to strive towards becoming a more data driven municipality. To reach their goals, the municipality had developed an extensive data-strategy for the years 2020-2022. One of the objectives of the innovation programme mentioned by de Wit is that every department within the municipality should have a data specialist who would give advice on data related topics and who would help in preparing the data so that it can be reused by other departments.
De Wit is positively inclined towards the Tygron Platform. According to him, the visualisation properties of the software are impressive, and it is a great communication tool which can support the discussion among multiple specialists from various domains who decide upon the building permits. There are however steps to be taken with regard to the tool to make it available to the citizens. At first, says de Wit, the tool will be used for solving the nitrogen problem and if successful, the municipality will broaden the application of the software to other challenging issues such as the external security, noise and air quality.