Ken Snyder's blog

Memory Mapping and Where it Could Take Us…

Memory Map Example in Flickr

Related to Charles' article about google maps and satellite images…

The emerging MemoryMap pool on Flickr, where people annotate maps and photos (frequently taken from google maps) with their memories linked to specific places, takes the Google map service to a new fun level. So why not bring this into the planning process? Maps, like this example here

Integrating Public Participation Tools and GIS Improves Decision Making

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.

Integrating Public Participation Tools and GIS Improves Decision Making

Exciting improvements in planning are possible when GIS tools are used in combination with public participation tools such as keypad polling. During a comprehensive plan update meeting in Hayden Colorado, flip charts were replaced with computerized systems and keypad voting tools to gather resident input on a proposed development and future growth. CommunityViz and GIS were used to analyze the impacts of growth and to create a visualization of what the proposed development would look like in the landscape.

What if you could really see what it would look like?

The Sierra Club is using photomontage images online to demonstrate what "smart growth" can look like and feel like Several photos show the difference between existing sprawl and potential smart growth solutions.

Photomontage is a visualization technique that is becoming increasingly popular as a tool to demonstrate what the future might look like under different design or build-out scenarios.

One way the Internet can be used as a public input tool

The Internet can be a great way to supplement public meetings and get more people to participate in registering their opinions and preferences for planning alternatives. (Of course there are equity issues but that's a discussion for another piece.)

The image below is an example of a question asked on the online visual preference survey used by Midtown Columbus Georgia. Results from the survey, gathered both in public meetings and online, are being used as a foundation for guiding the future planning recommendations for Midtown Columbus.

Visualization Tools Help Counter Neighborhood Concerns Over Housing Development

Here is a neat example of how visualization tools are helping improve the planning process for communities. It's an example we came across while researching tools for a chapter we are writing for the APA.

The City of Vail, Colorado offers an example of 3D visualization tools being used to improve the design review process. The city requires developers to submit a 3D model – preferably a virtual model – for design review. The virtual model is then placed in a 3D model, created by Winston Associates (, of the mountains, roads and ground plain to make it possible to explore the impacts of new buildings in the context of their surroundings. This technique was beneficial in getting an initially wary community behind a recent affordable housing project. Winston Associates worked with the developers to generate a 3-D model in 3ds max (formerly known as 3D Studio Max) and then placed the housing model into the site model. Using the model they demonstrated how the housing development would look from different vantage points such as the highway. In addition, the model proved to concerned neighbors that the development could not been seen from their homes. The project is currently under construction.

Will ESRI be able to keep up with internet based mapping solutions?

I have been struck lately by the progress of several projects using non-ESRI based GIS planning support systems and how often the decision to move away from ESRI has been that PC based ArcGIS cannot handle the large data sets for real-time scenario analysis.

I just saw a beta demonstration of a wildfire mitigation application developed by the University of Colorado's Planning department that uses a combination of open source GIS, SQL server, and Perl coding to help cities and counties look at alternative growth futures and how they impact fire mitigation.

3D modeling made easy

I recently downloaded and played around with a neat 3D modeling tool called Sketchup. @Last Software's SketchUp is a 3D modeling package intended to be used by architects and designers who need to quickly outline 3D ideas, but don't care for the difficulty of a CAD program, or the advanced features of a high-end 3D modeler.

SketchUp's toolset is fairly simple, offering a Photoshop-like, two-column tool palette. SketchUp has also a very helpful grid guidance system, with multiple colors to guide you through the 3D orientation plans.

Database Nation: What Does it Mean for Planners?

Reason magazine did a very provocative this month – for each of their 40,000 subscribers they printed a customized cover including an aerial photo of their house. The magazine headline started with the homeowner's name in big orange letters followed by the subtitle "They Know Where Your Are!" Click here to see the cover of the issue mailed to my neighbor – my house is 2 houses to the right.

On the inside cover, the Editor's Note includes several local facts embedded into the text "…as a telecommuter I don't envy your area's average commute of 27.