Integrating Public Participation Tools and GIS Improves Decision Making

Ken Snyder's picture
Take a planning challenge, add some technology and a pinch of public process, mix them just the right, and you have a recipe for good decision making. Orlando County Florida is cooking up such an event- and planners, practitioners, academics and members from all communities will be interested in watching their progress.

Orlando Florida is embarking on a year-long initiative to address economic, environmental, land use, and transportation needs for a 90,000-acre study area in southeast Orange County. The goal of the initiative, called Community Planning Collaborative Initiative (CPCI): Democracy and Planning in Action, is to improve land use planning in Orange County and to create an opportunity to demonstrate how public participation and hi-tech tools can be integrated into planning processes in all communities to enhance decision making.

The CPCI process includes: A community assessment of Orange County's current technical and institutional decision making capacity; training in the use of new technologies and how to integrate public processes with technologies to create dynamic and effective decision making; community visioning to gather and synthesize information on public values and concerns; and the digital charrette where community design and decision making tools will be applied (live) to the local planning challenge. (The digital charrette will also be a national event likely to occur in the summer or fall of 2005.) Community process tools like keypad polling, visualization tools that show what changes would look like in the real world, and analysis tools that identify impacts of alternatives, are among some of the tools that will be demonstrated during the digital charrette.

CPCI is the next in a series of five national events on tools for community design and decision making organized by, a program of the Orton Family Foundation. For background and current information about CPCI go to

Ken Snyder is Executive Director of PlaceMatters


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