Innovation Awards Winners!

The Open Planning Tools Group is excited to announce the winners of the third annual Innovation Awards. We received some very strong submittals this year – further evidence of the rapid rate of advancement in tools and technologies supporting scenario planning.

So, without further ado, this year, we are presenting awards in two categories:

The first award, the Innovative Planning Tool Award, highlights the best new contribution to the development of open planning tools. This year’s winner for goes to Infill Score, a free open source tool for measuring a community’s readiness for infill. This tool provides citizens, planners, and elected officials with a self-assessment tool and action planning tools to focus public and private sector investment and accelerate the implementation of sustainable communities. Congratulations to Infill Score.

Infill Score logo


Our second award for 2015 is the Exemplary Implementation Award, which recognizes a planning process or project that utilized planning tools in an innovative manner. The winner for this year’s Exemplary Implementation Award is PlaceSpeak’s Whitehorse Corridor Alaska Highway Improvement Project. To complement this complex planning process, CH2M Hill utilized PlaceSpeak for their outreach and public consultation. This allowed the Yukon Government successfully develop solutions to address the existing safety and capacity needs of the Whitehorse Corridor. Congratulations to PlaceSpeak.

PlaceSpeak logo


In addition to recognition for their achievements the award recipients will receive a cash prize of $500.

We will post more info on this years winners in the coming days…

Announcing the third annual Innovation Awards! DEADLINE EXTENDED

The Open Planning Tools Group is sponsoring it’s third annual innovation awards program to facilitate the advancement and use of innovative open planning tools. These include tools to enhance community involvement in the planning process and community decision-making, including scenario planning, civic engagement, and impacts modeling. Awards will be made for innovative tool development, for an exemplary implementation effort and for an innovative student contribution to the field.

Pass along to anyone you feel might be interested in submitting. The deadline has been extended to February 1, 2016.

For more information see here.

Thank you for a successful OPTG Symposium

Austin Evening

We wanted to send out a huge thank you to the team at the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin for hosting this years OPTG Symposium. The group met at the Thompson Conference Center on campus for two days of inspiring presentations and discussions. For those interested in reviewing materials from the event, you can find them on the shared Google Drive.

We also want to thank the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy for generously supporting the OPTG’s ongoing activities and to PlaceMatters for helping coordinate activities.

Till next year!

Advancing innovation in scenario planning

Note: this is a cross-post from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s blog.

As part of a growing effort to harness technology for better long term planning, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, in partnership with PlaceMatters, is presenting the 6th Annual Open Planning Tools Symposium at the University of Texas at Austin.

   The symposium is the nation’s top gathering for developers of applications known as scenario planning tools, which help government agencies and the public make decisions about land-use, transportation and other issues that require thinking about the factors that will shape an uncertain future.

   “In the face of climate change, population growth and rapidly changing land use, the availability of technology to help us plan for an uncertain future is more important than ever,” said Armando Carbonell, senior fellow and chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute.

Communities have for many years used software in “visioning” exercises, but scenario planning tools have yet to be widely adopted across cities, counties, metropolitan planning organizations and other agencies that engage in long term planning.

   In 2012, the Lincoln Institute published a report, Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools, recommending several actions to help expand the use of these tools, including establishing better data standards, providing for public education and technical training, creating a model scenario planning process, and improving interoperability between platforms through the use of open-source software development practices.

   The report coincided with the launch of an online clearinghouse to bring researchers, planners, and software developers together under the banner of the Open Planning Tools Group.

   As one example of how this group is helping to advance planning tools and technology, software developers have added several new tools to Envision Tomorrow, which lets planners and the public test different strategies for shaping the ideal urban community. New features include real-time feasibility modeling for redevelopment, a fiscal impact tool, and cloud-based scenario creation.

   The Lincoln Institute has announced it will support four new proposals to further develop and improve scenario planning tools: 

  • From Social Vulnerability and Neighborhood Effects to Planning Knowledge: Tools for Considering Social Equity in Scenario Planning: This project, led by Robert Goodspeed of the University of Michigan, will create tools to investigate which populations might be vulnerable to planned change, the demographic profile and anticipated well-being of residents for each scenario, and what effects a given scenario will have on the residents of surrounding areas.
  • Alpaca: An Economic Evaluation Plug-In for Scenario Planning Tools: This project, led by Colby Brown of Manhan Group LLC, will create an open software library that will calculate property prices and values as a result of the interaction between competing consumers in the real estate market, enabling the computation of more robust economic indicators to address topics such as housing affordability, fiscal effects, income inequality, and gentrification.
  • Open Vulnerability Mapper: This project, led by Bev Wilson and Arnab Chakraborty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will support better planning for climate change through an open source tool to map where the most vulnerable people live and where the most hazardous places are. The mapper will be developed for the Chicago area, with a toolkit for adapting it to other places.
  • Scenario Tools for Equitable Corridor Reinvestment and Affordable Housing Preservation: This project, led by Elizabeth Mueller of the University of Texas at Austin and Jennifer Minner of Cornell University, will build on a metric developed for Austin, Texas, which helps cities identify areas most vulnerable to displacement from infill development, where preservation is urgent. It is intended to help replicate this tool in other fast-growing cities, with integration into a widely used scenario planning tool known as ET+.

   These projects support the Lincoln Institute’s goal of fostering better planning practices to address major social challenges such as climate adaptation, housing affordability and inequality. In the coming months and years, the Lincoln Institute will mobilize new research and development to further advance tools that address these challenges and others, such as water resource allocation.


6th Annual OPTG Symposium

The 6th Annual Open Planning Tools Symposium is being held at the University of Texas at Austin on November 18-20th.

Please join us in Austin for our annual symposium on open source tool use and innovation. This two and a half day symposium will be held at the Thompson Conference Center on campus. Building on years of work funded by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, this intimate symposium serves as the country’s leading work-session for open source planning tool developers, researchers, and high-level users. We will highlight key projects coordinated by group members such as the development of a curriculum material library, the annual Innovation Awards and others.

Stay tuned as we update details on this years event.