ODP workshop

About Open Digital Planning

We are a community of council officers, and digital and technical experts who are working together to design and build the next generation of local government planning services in England.

What we do

Our services are designed to meet user needs, ensure security, and promote openness, all while adhering to modern technology standards. We're creating flexible software with better access to underlying planning data, allowing information to move seamlessly and helping to automate routine processes.

Future legislation seeks to encourage this move to more modular technology.

“It was so different as a planner to go from being asked 'does this work?' to 'what do you actually want out of this software?'”

Janine, Planning Business Support Officer, Dacorum Borough Council

How we work

The Open Digital Planning (ODP) community is made up of council officers, content writers, developers and user research experts from 27 local councils, digital agencies and central government.

We work in small product teams that take part in research, design and testing activities. Depending on their level of involvement councils may also prioritise the features that are built and help direct the overall strategy for ODP.

Council partners are also responsible for the day-to-day running of the services in their local authorities.

We use the collective wisdom of council officers with a deep knowledge of local planning so that our products better meet the needs of council planning teams.

Our work is prioritised into two-week sprints and when we reach a milestone we test and release. In this way, we continuously improve our products. Some of our best thinking takes place in retrospective meetings - spaces for reflection that ensure we stay critical.

Design and development support is provided by: Open Systems Lab, NomensaTPXimpact, Version1 and Unboxed.

What we mean by 'Open' Digital Planning

Open source

The source code underpinning our work is open by default. The code is freely available to software developers to reuse and edit. Where features in our products are of interest to others, reusing our code can save effort and support the improvement of services across the planning software market.

Working in the open

We make our documents, presentations, and research publicly viewable so that others can benefit from our findings. Our monthly Show-and-Tells are open to all and allow us to share our progress with a wider audience.

Open standards

We want to see a plug-and-play ecosystem of digital planning services that 'just work'. Integrations between different systems should be straightforward, and based on openly published standards and documentation, so that councils have more choice in the software they use.

Working collaboratively

All ODP partners are committed to the five principles of the Local Digital Declaration, an ambition for the future of local government services.

We believe councils should be at the heart of how local services are designed, and we benefit from working together to solve shared challenges, supporting and learning from each other as we go.

Our products are designed with more than just our project partners in mind. By bringing in multiple viewpoints we are creating services that work for everyone.

The future of ODP

Our ambition is to ensure that our products are commercially viable, comply with government legislation, and support simpler and more transparent planning. In the future, ODP will develop into an independent not-for-profit legal entity, jointly owned by councils that oversee a flexible and affordable ecosystem of digital planning services.

Register your interest

Become a key part of Open Digital Planning by co-owning the services and contributing towards their development.

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