Spatial Information Support for Inclusive and Integrative Planning in India A case study of Mumbai

Student thesis: Phd


The digital transition has advanced the use of data-driven and technological tools to support planners in understanding urban regions that are highly complex, contiguous, and multi-scalar entities. However, the structural and managerial constraints that planners encounter in the use of such tools have remained static. This has created a disconnect between the fast progressing support tools and slow transforming planning capacities. An integrated approach that connects the two separate but interrelated concepts is necessary to deliver an inclusive planning agenda. This thesis examines the use of spatial information in planning practice to support planners in implementing ‘planned' objectives in Mumbai, India. India’s accelerated urban growth, an archaic planning system, and fragmented governance contribute to a complex context that constrains the development of effective planning support tools. Concepts from agonistic pluralism, evidence-based planning, and planning support tools are adopted to develop an analytical user-centric conceptual approach. On the basis of this conceptual approach an experimental method is designed that includes a GIS-based interactive tool based on an original curated spatial database of critical urban issues. The database demonstrates the ‘real’ potential of spatial data infrastructure in Mumbai. Planners’ interaction with diverse information in practice are evaluated through this tool and it provides an understanding of the intergovernmental user-practices and spatial thinking prevalent in India’s planning system. Using data from interviews with urban experts at the national, regional, and local levels further strengthens the understanding of the politics of planning information in use. The process of developing the interactive tool provides general principles that enable the creation of data-informed and user-centric support tools. The discussion highlights the complexity of data infrastructure access and management compounded by silos in government that affects the production of spatial knowledge. Structural limitations and planners’ agency are found to be constraining factors in the use of data. The research argues for an integrated conceptual approach that recognises the politics and praxis of planning information support in moving towards an inclusive and democratic planning practice for managing urban regions.
Date of Award31 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCecilia Wong (Supervisor) & Andreas Schulze Baing (Supervisor)


  • Politics of Planning Practice
  • India
  • Digital Urban Planning Practice
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Spatial Data infrastructure
  • Spatial Planning
  • Planning Information Support

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