‘We must democratize urban planning through digital tools’ – Q&A with Christina Haupt Toft

We had an opportunity to check back in with Christina Haupt Toft – who is helping one of the startups in the 2021 Urbantech Mentoring Program.

How do you wish your field of expertise would look like in 10 years?

I wish to see my future field of expertise as someone who can communicate strategy and vision clearly across different groups of people with varying skill sets, capabilities, and ways of absorbing information and change. There are too many who are too stuck in their discipline and function. I wish to learn quickly and be able to inspire people around me to self-learn all the time – creating a culture of learning and innovating without discarding traditional capabilities. We need to keep learning to create real change.

Which suggestion would you give to a younger self?

Early in your career, select not just one, but multiple mentors with diverse experiences. And when selecting your mentors, select the ones who sees your potential and will help you reach it.

One might get advice that one doesn’t want to hear – how to deal with it?

Never conform to things just because they work for other people – find your own way. But if people make the effort to give you advice, they probably have a reason for it. So listen and look inside yourself. Outside perspectives can be very strong both in keeping you on track and adjusting along the way.

What are your top tips for giving advice that is followed?

I believe in giving sincere advice that can be translated into actions. It is only by having a real interest in people around you and stamina, that you will have an impact.

If you could mentor a city, which would it be and what would you ask?

Copenhagen with a committed vision and focus on inclusivity, liveability, and sustainability. By 2050 almost 70% of us will live in cities which emphasizes a strong focus on bringing a responsible version of capitalism into urban planning reinventing how people work and live.

I would ask how we work with inclusivity, liveability, and sustainability? I believe that technology is one of the means to achieve these goals. Disruptive technologies have the potential to transform the way cities currently operate and boost everything from the sharing economy, transition to a circular economy, pollution-free air to convenient access to affordable, healthy, and fresh food. Furthermore, we must democratize urban planning through digital tools that can make citizens influence how cities are shaped. For example by making citizens proposal easier through online events instead of consultations, and by using generative designs where the citizens can determine input and evaluation criteria. It will generate fresh ideas that urban planners may not consider, focusing on the needs and desires of the future consumers of the space and utilizing the energy and creativity of the public to inspire the planning process. I believe that every city will have to design its own future journey.

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Connect with Christina on LinkedIn

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