Birmingham City Council has awarded a contract to Urban Intelligence to undertake a city-wide review of land for homes using artificial intelligence.
UK-based proptech startup, Urban Intelligence, has been awarded a contract by Birmingham City Council to undertake a review of land across the city using groundbreaking digital methods. Using AI, Birmingham City Council is able to assess a greater number of sites at a faster pace, making it easier to fulfil its housing targets. These have recently increased by 35% due to the government’s adjustment to the housing needs assessment methodology which has boosted targets in the UK’s 20 largest cities.
Urban Intelligence’s bespoke geospatial analysis software will significantly increase the speed and scope of the council’s review. It will enable 330,000 sites to be assessed, 284 times more than the 1,160 assessed by the council in 2017 and will reduce the time required to produce a final list of sites from 11 to 3 months. Regaining that time will enable officers to better respond to the challenges currently faced by the city’s residents and businesses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Birmingham City Council is currently considering a new development plan for 2022-2042, and finding sufficient land for housing is likely to be increasingly challenging given their new housing targets. The examination of the current plan already found that 37,900 of the 89,000 new dwellings cannot be accommodated within the city’s boundaries. Urban Intelligence’s solution is to use machine learning to appraise every land parcel across the city, maximising the chances of uncovering more sites that could respond to the pressing need for homes. It will also enable scenario testing to assess the impact of policy decisions in preparation for the new Birmingham Development Plan.
Maria Dunn, Birmingham’s Head of Development Policy, has said the council “are excited to work with Urban Intelligence and leverage the power of technology to leave no stone unturned in our search for new development sites.” Daniel Mohamed, founder and CEO of Urban Intelligence, is excited about the project’s potential: “As the largest local authority in Europe, the city will provide a fantastic opportunity to explore the use of geospatial methods for data-driven urban development at significant scale.” The exploration of novel technologies in the planning sector reflects the broader shift towards digitisation announced in the Planning White Paper released in August 2020.
Urban Intelligence’s technology has already had a huge impact in the London Borough of Hounslow by multiplying the number of sites typically assessed 191 times. The team’s work has uncovered 4200 suitable sites of which many are council-owned and small, fulfilling the London Plan’s new requirement for LB Hounslow to deliver 2800 homes on sites under 0.25 hectares. This will empower officers in their search for suitable land for homes by reducing the number of sites they need to consider manually.