When William Hynes established the urban planning agency Future Analytics Consulting (FAC) eight years ago, he had made the decision to leave behind a steady career in academia for the uncertainty of the commercial world.
“Being in academia is excellent because you’re at the forefront of thinking and dealing with knowledge-hungry students,” he said. “It really advanced my own knowledge and my expertise in tools and modelling, and I wanted to use that to make an impact in society in a very applied sense.”
Hynes lectured full-time at UCD for eight years in subjects ranging from urban and regional planning, to economics, transport planning and demographic analysis.
He established FAC in Dublin in 2010 with co-founder Stephen Purcell, a former student on UCD’s Master’s in regional urban planning course, following the introduction of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act.
“In the truest sense, people would know us as town planners, but town planning has expanded and advanced so much now that we are really urban planners and economists,” said Hynes. “Our focus is on bringing good evidence-based decisions to the urban planning, growth and development process.”
FAC employs 25 people in Dublin and is involved in planning projects at regional, national and European level. It has just secured a place on +CityxChange, a €20 million EU project funded under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
“We do a lot of funded research work for the European Commission. Our focus is on planning the urban-built environment with the aim of enhancing the quality of life of citizens and society in general. We act as the planners and the economists assisting in the decision-making process, but we also use really informed data to bring about strong policy decisions using detailed and complex modelling tools,” he said.
“We look at how areas are going to grow so that good-quality housing can be provided alongside employment, educational and social infrastructure, and sustainable transportation connections.”