Anthony Flint, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Advances in technology are helping revolutionize a key component in planning: engaging citizens in the planning process. The Visualizing section of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy website explores recent computer-based tools for the visual display of long-range, scenario, and regional planning, as well as different forms of density in the built environment.
Visualizing Density includes an extensive gallery of images taken by aerial photographer Alex MacLean, illustrating different levels of density, from one-acre lot peripheral subdivisions in the Southwest to urban environments like Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. The site also includes an interactive simulation game challenging users to configure settlements while considering design, land consumption, and energy and transportation costs. MacLean and Julie Campoli, who co-authored the recent book Visualizing Density, concluded that public aversion to density could be addressed by presenting visual information on design, location, and context.
A team led by Lewis D. Hopkins at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign put together Visual Tools for Planners, another extensive library of representations to communicate planning ideas about physical place, relationships, and movements of people in prior and newly emerging communities. In addition the library includes scenarios for responding to natural disasters, as well as a handbook and tutorial for using them. The site, based on recovery work in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina, is a companion to the book Engaging the Future: Forecasts, Scenarios, Plans, and Projects, edited by Hopkins and Marisa A. Zapata.
Finally, Visioning and Visualization grew out of a public participation process in Kona, Hawaii, a case study highlighted in Visioning and Visualization: People, Pixels, and Plans, by Michael Kwartler and Gianni Longo. In 2006, ACP Visioning & Planning and the Environmental Simulation Center teamed with Wilson Okamoto to develop the Kona Community Development Plan – a vision for more sustainable growth patterns on the western coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Users follow step by step the methods used to engage the public through images and modeling of scenarios – such as showing street-level views of what the environment would look like with different levels of density, mix of uses, and availability of transit.
For more information on Visualizing Density please visit: