Dr. Clement Lau, a Los Angeles County Planner who has previously written about the use of smart phone apps to assist planners, writes about another app he has recently added to his planning tool quiver: Instagram.
"As just about everyone knows, Instagram is a free photo-sharing program and social network. Launched in October 2010, the service enables an individual to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it with other users."
"You may be wondering, what is the connection between Instagram and city planning?" asks Lau. The application can "[capture] our imaginations with a vast array of images, helping us to visualize what is possible, and then doing what is necessary to bring forth positive changes to our communities."
"Photos are particularly effective as part of an image preference survey designed to elicit feedback on the kinds of development people hope to encourage or discourage," he notes. "Planning officials find survey results helpful in developing design standards that reflect community preferences. One may even think of Instagram as one big image preference survey given that it contains a large repository of photos, and allows users to like and comment on photos."
"Images are critical to city planning. We cannot plan and implement creative ideas to improve our communities without first seeing what has been done and considering what can be done."