In a new study from Harvard University’s Joint Center on Housing Studies (JCHS), researchers discuss how digitalization – which the authors define as “the strategic use of technologies that collect, create, process, organize, analyze, use, and monetize data” – is affecting how housing is built, financed, marketed, sold, managed, and lived in and how these digital-age changes impact some of our nation’s biggest social, economic, and environmental challenges and disparities.
The researchers’ paper frames eleven papers on this topic submitted to a 2022 Harvard Graduate School of Design symposium, providing a background on the rise of the digital age and the landscape of digitalization in the housing space. While digitalization helps alleviate many problems associated with developing, funding, selling, buying, and inhabiting housing, the authors note that it can also compound discrimination, gentrification, segregation, climate change, equity, and privacy.
Given these concerns, the researchers propose a framework for assessing digitalization’s impact on housing, focusing particularly on affordability, segregation and discrimination, gentrification and displacement, resiliency and climate change, changing demographics, and participation and decision-making. They also offer suggestions to the public, private, nonprofit, and civic sectors on how to foster more beneficial outcomes in this world of increased digitalization and avoid exacerbating socio-economic and environmental problems.