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thrice all american: Open Source Urban Planning
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Open Source Urban Planning

· Posted Tuesday February 3, 2009 by jamie

I came across an interesting article on Wired about LimeWire founder Mark Gorton’s The Open Planning Project, which seeks to bring the open source software movement together with urban planning. Portland has already used the software to help plan bus routes, and San Francisco may not be far behind.

Now, this certainly is no panacea. Like any form of participatory government, there is significant risk of, well, lack of participation (or non-representative samples of interested parties) messing up the results. But I think there is some interesting potential to bring new people to the table–whether due to the demographics of Internet users or the availability of citizens to attend meetings–in a way that might promote a more progressive agenda. (And, might I hope, one that looks at whole-city solutions instead of just a bunch of vocal neighborhood groups fighting for speedbumps.)


(via uclahelo@flickr, cc by-nc-nd)

I would be interested to see if Tacoma’s government would ever use such tools to try to bring more people to the table. And for that matter, whether the citizens of Tacoma would step up to the plate and get involved. I think we could get a fascinating diversity of opinion, but with that diversity would come neighborhood-specific knowledge from all around the city. And the tools would allow public access to planning data that was currently only available in proprietary planning tools. Seems worth trying…

A few things I would champion:

Read about it at Wired.
Check out The Open Planning Project.


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Comments:

  1. Interesting post. It’s about time for the 20 year update to the neighborhood comp plans too, no?

    Citizen engagement takes much time and effort. The city has largely just gone with consultants. Does not empowering residents do more harm than good? Other cities that have delegated more power to neighborhoods indicate this to be so.

    Regarding your three bullet points: YES! YES! YES!

    The last one is especially annoying!

    Just because downtown had traffic 50 years ago is no a reason to keep all those traffic lights. Yank ‘em and toss ‘em, I say!

    morgan    Feb 3, 11:23 PM    #
  2. I’m not even necessarily saying we should get rid of traffic lights (though I’m sure some could go), just that their use needs to be rethought. Once upon a time I started writing a post about this specific topic, but it started to feel too gripe-y. I might have to revisit…

    jamie    Feb 4, 06:28 AM    #
  3. Nice

    Erik    Feb 4, 10:03 AM    #