Chris Steins's blog

Chris Steins is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Planetizen.

Clean Air, Open Code

California Air Resources BoardI was interested to find this interview with Bill Welt, the Chief Information Officer of theCalifornia Air Resources Board (ARB), discussing with ARB is increasingly building models and applications using Open Source software. The interview appears on the Mad Penguin

Top 8 Planning Technologies, 2006

Online Impact AnalysisThanks to a kind invitation from Wally Siembab to present at the well-attendedSouth Bay Cities Council of Governments' Seventh Annual General Assembly, I had the opportunity to unveil my annual list of the top technologies for planning.

I briefly presented each of the top eight technology tools, and then provide one or more examples of each.

More On RFP Sins...

City of East Providence, Rhode IslandI got a slew of responses (some positive, some not) on my post, "Top 8 Sins For RFPs". The best response came from Chelsea Pierce, an Associate Planner with the City of East Providence, Rhode Island , who offers a few of her proposal pet peeves. Chelsea writes:

Great list of RFP sins! I'll keep those things in mind when I write my next one. I have a few proposal submittal pet peeves I'd like to share - small things, really, but also things that drive me bananas.

Top 8 Sins For RFPs

Working at Urban Insight, I see about 10-20 RFPs for various projects each month. We have to evaluate the cost/benefit of deciding to respond to any one of these RFPs, and so the RFPs are evaluated by us much the way that our proposal would be evaluated by an organization or agency.

While some RFPs are outstanding, and clearly describe the project, evaluation, and process, others are, well, downright embarrassing, or contain clauses and provisions that leave you scratching your head.

California IT Strategic Plan - I Stand Corrected

Clark KelsoClark Kelso, California's Chief Information Officer, was kind enough to respond to my recent post, California Updates State IT Strategic Plan, commenting on the state's new strategic plan and what I perceived to be a lack of focus on making technology accessible to people with disabilities.

Clark writes:

...I am pleased to see that our planning activities are being followed so closely in the trade press.

The last paragraph in your article suggests we may not be paying sufficient attention to Section 508 issues in our web developments. Although we did not cite Section 508 in the strategic plan, accessibility is the very heart of our efforts. As your article notes,
the very first goal of the plan is to "Make government services more accessible to citizens and State clients." That concept of accessibility includes not only opening up new, technology-enabled vehicles for delivering services, information and benefits, but the goal of ensuring that those vehicles -- as well as all existing vehicles -- are ADA accessible and compliant.

Our Portal Steering Committee, which was only recently created and is just starting to warm up to the topic, has already expressly recognized ADA compliance as a required component of the State's web presence. The following link plainly identifies ADA accessibility and compliance as a necessary aspect of the user interface: (PDF, 100KB)

The State's web pages are NOT always appropriately accessible, but this is most certainly an issue that we take seriously at the highest planning levels, and we encourage all departments to make accessibility a high priority.

Funny Employment Queries

So we're hiring for two new positions at Urban Insight (the company that supports Planetizen). We're hiring a Web Designer/Developer (with preference given to candidates with backgrounds in planning), and a Web Developer / Programmer.

I published the job announcements to several lists and also on a few online services that I've had success with in the past. I've received a fair number of responses, and, thank goodness, and several highly-qualified candidates (although not so many with backgrounds in planning/architecture/urban esign).

California Updates State IT Strategic Plan

California State Information Technology Strategic PlanWhile not strictly relevant to planning, it's always interesting to compare plans prepared by planners with plans prepared by other branches of government, in this case the California CIO and the IT Council Strategic Plan Committee have prepared the new California State Information Technology Strategic Plan (PDF, 220KB)

The plan lists six impressive strategic goals:

  • Make Government services more accessible to citizens and State clients.
  • Building Websites For Nonprofits With Open Source Content Management Frameworks

    NTEN Conference LogoAbhijeet presented last week at the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEC) 2005 San Diego Regional Conference on open source content management frameworks for building websites for nonprofit. He published his fabulous presentation online under a creative commons license:

    Building Websites For Nonprofits With Open Source Content Management Frameworks

    He really knows what he's presenting on, since much of his presentation is based on his hands-on experience with a massive project we just completed here at Urban Insight.

    Twins Reading Planetizen

    Our newborn twins, Rowan and Grant, reading the latest Planetizen news before setting off on a busy day.

    Twins reading Planetizen

    Rumor: Microsoft To Buy ESRI?

    So if both Microsoft and ESRI are concerned about the Google's move into mapping with the impressive Google Earth, then perhaps a Microsoft-ESRI combination would be the way to fight back. Wow. That's a big rumor.