New technology should be used to improve life in recently-devolved combined authorities, according to town planners.
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) says new technology can help the city regions tackle complex economic, social and environmental challenges.
In a report Better Planning: Smart City-Regions, the RTPI says the recent devolution agenda offers opportunities for combined authorities to create 'joined up plans' for housing, infrastructure, health and the environment.
But it says new approaches are needed to understand complex economic, social and environmental trends, build consensus between a wide range of stakeholders and develop long-term plans in conditions of uncertainty.
RTPI policy officer James Harris said: 'Smart-city initiatives show that big data and new technology can improve the efficiency of infrastructure networks and many aspects of city life, but the benefits can go much further.
'By applying technological innovation to strategic planning, we can help combined authorities develop plans for cities and their surrounding areas, including towns and rural areas.
'New types of data can help them tackle a broad range of issues such as growing regional divide, housing, health, and climate change.'