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Industrial Secondment: Unlocking Value through Digitally Enabled Spatial Planning: A Comprehensive Review

Industrial Secondment: Unlocking Value through Digitally Enabled Spatial Planning: A Comprehensive Review

*******************Deadline Passed********************

C-DICE is delighted to offer an exciting opportunity for a 3-month secondment for postdoctoral researchers with non-profit social enterprise, Digital Task Force for Planning. The postdoctoral researchers seconded to this project will benefit from cross-disciplinary supervision while working with world-renowned leaders in the field. They will be directly supervised by Dr Wei Yang, who specialises in spatial planning, and will have access to Geovation Hub. Additionally, they will join the Liveable Cities Research Group at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Professor Chris Rogers. Through Chris and his colleague (Dr Joanne Leach), the secondee will have access to the wider collaborative network of UKCRIC.

The secondee will be tutored in systems thinking and the application of a recently-developed Theory of Change for Infrastructure and Cities. It is worth noting that successful secondees may have the opportunity to extend their contract or transition into full-time employment if the Task Force secures long-term funding.

This project would be ideal for a postdoctoral researcher with an interest in transdisciplinary research and a background in spatial planning, environmental science, geography, computer science, or data analytics.

About Digital Task Force

The Digital Task Force for Planning is an innovation-led Social Enterprise (Not-for-Profit Organisation) devoted to digital planning with the ambition to promote digital integration and advancement in Spatial Planning to tackle the grand challenges in the 21st Century. The Task Force seeks to apply and develop cutting edge digital research and technology into mainstream Spatial Planning practice and education thus leading to transformative changes needed in the sector for public benefit.

The Task Force’s report, A Digital Future for Planning – Spatial Planning Reimagined (Batty & Yang, 2022), outlines an ambitious blueprint for digitally enabled spatial planning that could contribute to the achievement of government targets on net zero, levelling up and other pressing social and economic issues.

Project Background

The Digital Task Force for Planning was initially set up as an independent expert panel in 2021 with a group of influential thought leaders drawn from a broad spectrum of disciplines ranging from planning to digital technology. It is first of its kind innovation-led organisation in the world to take this integrated systems approach to systemically transform spatial planning methodology.

Key activities of the Task Force are:

  • Consolidating existing digital planning research and tools, identifying research gaps; and developing practical solutions for transforming spatial planning
  • Digital planning training and capacity building
  • Developing as an Incubator for digital planning innovation

The Task Force aims to develop an open-source digital spatial planning methodologies and tools framework, designed to provide planners, researchers, and policymakers with a comprehensive and adaptable set of resources. Its mission will involve a collaborative effort, bringing together experts in the fields of spatial planning, design and engagement, digital technologies, planning law, climate, built and natural environment, social and behavioural sciences, and open-source development.

In addition to the development of methodologies, a key aspect of the project will be the creation of a suite of digital tools specifically tailored to support spatial planning activities., which may include Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications, data visualisation platforms, simulation models, and decision-support systems.

The outcomes are expected to have significant implications for the field of spatial planning. The open-source digital spatial planning methodologies and tools framework will empower planners to leverage the potential of digital technologies, improving the transparency and efficiency of their decision-making processes. It will also foster collaboration and knowledge exchange within and beyond the planning community, promoting innovation and continuous improvement.

Job Purpose

The job purpose is to assist the Task Force in developing a value proposition that will secure long-term funding for the development of open-source digital spatial planning methodologies and tool frameworks. This framework will be designed to support sustainable development and decarbonisation efforts.

The role involves:

  • conducting a comprehensive review of relevant research projects and innovative developments in practice, identifying their potential for integration into the new planning framework.
  • evaluating and assessing various decarbonisation toolkits, understanding their scope, limitations, and current state of development.
  • Examining how such tool kits might enable the preparation of better local plans.
  • Identifying and quantifying the value, both monetary and non-monetary, that can be unlocked through the efforts of the Digital Task Force for Planning, encompassing social, environmental, economic, cultural, and political aspects.

Secondment Details

Number of secondments: This advert is for one secondment.

Duration: This secondment is three months in duration at full-time (or prorated for part-time equivalent).

Location: Hybrid working with in-person meetings every two weeks (in London or at a mutually convenient location).

Salary: University Pay Scale Spine 26 to 36 (£33,059 to £44,018 p.a. prorated for duration of post), depending on current postdoctoral researcher salary. Please note that university overheads will not be paid due to the developmental opportunity this presents to the postdoctoral researcher to undertake an industrial secondment. Expenses related to authorised travel for this secondment will be covered.

Special Conditions

This industrial placement is open to postdoctoral researchers based at C-DICE universities. Successful candidates will be required to seek permission from their supervisor and employing organisation to undertake the secondment. The project will commence as soon as possible. In cases where participation in this secondment would require a no-cost extension to an EPSRC grant, EPSRC has agreed to grant this automatically on request.

All staff have a statutory responsibility to take reasonable care of themselves, others and the environment and to prevent harm by their acts or omissions. All staff are therefore required to adhere to the Digital Task Force Health, Safety and Environmental Policy & Procedures.

All staff should hold a duty and commitment to observing the Digital Task Force Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion policy and procedures at all times. Duties must be carried out in accordance with relevant Equality & Diversity legislation and policies/procedures.

After the Secondment

  • Confirmation of expenditure.
  • Outcomes (e.g. publications, engagement activities) for impact tracking.
  • A report highlighting key findings.
  • The postdoc may be asked to engage with C-DICE events (e.g. Annual Conference or Business Engagement Events) and to lead a C-DICE training activity in their area of expertise.


Essential Criteria

  • The secondee will be proficient in critically reviewing academic and other technical literature, for example as a result of having secured or be working towards finalising a PhD, or via such experience in practice. 
  • Appreciation of, and a willingness to engage with, the multiple disciplines that combine to create and shape places is also important.
  • The postdoc must be currently employed by a C-DICE HEI (home institution) or C-DICE affiliated partner. Please note that postdocs at all UKCRIC and ERA universities may apply for this position.
  • This post is not intended for permanent teaching staff / lecturers.

Desirable Criteria

  • Related field: A PhD degree or equivalent experience in a relevant field such as spatial planning, environmental science, geography, computer science, and data analytics.
  • Knowledge of Spatial Planning: An understanding of spatial planning principles, practices, and methodologies. Familiarity with the concepts of sustainable development, decarbonisation, and digital technologies is highly desirable.
  • Research and Analysis Skills: Proficiency in conducting research, literature reviews, and analysis of relevant projects and initiatives. Ability to critically evaluate research findings, identify trends, and extract key insights.
  • Decarbonisation Expertise: Knowledge of decarbonisation strategies, policies, and tools, with a focus on their application within spatial planning. Familiarity with various decarbonisation toolkits and their limitations would be advantageous.
  • Digital Proficiency: Understanding of digital technologies and their potential applications in spatial planning. Familiarity with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), data analysis, and visualisation tools is desirable.
  • Analytical Thinking: Strong analytical skills to assess and evaluate the value, impacts, and potential benefits of digitally enabled spatial planning initiatives.
  • Strong Written Skills: Excellent written skills to prepare reports and presentati


Deadline for applications27 July 2023 at 16:00
Confirmation interviews1 August 2023 betwen 14:00-16:00

How to Apply

Applications may be submitted any time before the deadline.

  • Sign up to Inkpath.  Then affiliate your account to C-DICE.  For more details on how, click here.
  • Apply via Inkpath using Activity Code DSAB0014 or click the button above.
  • When you sign up for the activity, you will receive a link to an online application form.
  • You will need:
    • Application details (education & employment background)
    • Cover letter stating your available start date (max 500 words)
    • CV

Supporting documents to be uploaded to Inkpath Activity DSAB0014. Any questions about the role or support in the application process should be emailed to C-DICE at and cc:

Please note that if you are successful, your supervisor will be contacted for a letter/email of support.

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