Posts Tagged ‘urban planning’

opening up GIS to urban planning through open source

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Thanks, PB, for the post

Geospatial technologies have once again paved the way for a new social learning experience. Mark Gordton, the mind behind Limewire, has teamed up with a team familiar with geospatial editing to bring you GeoServer: an open source urban planning app. This new project allows users to map out their transportation routes and daily geographical events to then vote for more bicycles paths or public transportation. Also, users will be able to vote on whether they would rather have a gas station or a public park built on a new piece of land. Much like Google Maps allows its users to customize maps to display routes on a pre-existing grid, GeoServer hopes to provide similar urban planning opportunities.

Thomas K. Wright, who is executive director of the Regional Plan Association, is very positive about its potential:

“99 percent of planning in the United States is volunteer citizens on Tuesday nights in a high school gym….Creating a software that can reach into that dynamic would be very profound, and open it up, and shine light on the decision-making. Right now, it becomes competing experts trying to out-credential each other in front of these citizen and volunteer boards… [Gorton] could actually change the whole playing field.”

GeoServer is allowing citizens to voice their concerns and be engaged in community planning processes.

This is going to have some very beneficial effects on the way urban planning can and will be undertaken. Planners will now have access to information from the people themselves about what they want and what they think would be beneficial for the neighbourhoods with which they are most familiar. With these tools at their disposal, non-expert residents will be more involved and tools like this will allow for more of a democratic approach to urban planning decisions.

Possibly the most important aspect of allowing the average person to voice their concern without having knowledge of planning practice and/or Geospatial Information Systems is the question of compatibility among user information and program datasets. Luckily GeoServer can display the spatial and mapped data people upload to a P2P server onto various mapping software/application [ArcGIS or Google Maps]

This new program is just another step in the growing world of open source media and peer to peer sharing of ideas, files and information. GeoServer is just another step in adapting to and planning for our world’s ever increasing complexity and interconnectivity.