A Brave New World: How Apps Are Changing Planning

Mobile applications (apps) are gaining in popularity as tools for increasing participation in local governance and planning, and are opening up new possibilities for planners to tap into the wisdom of the crowd.

September 4, 2012 - Jennifer Evans-Cowley

A series of screengrabs illustrating the functionality of Google Maps.

Recommended Mobile Apps for Urban Planning in 2023

Planetizen's annual list of top apps for planners is back, ten years after its first appearance on the site. Scores of apps have been recommended by planners as examples of planning in action, or tools for planning action.

April 27, 2023 - James Brasuell

Screengrabs from the Morpholio Trace showing the drawing and annotation tools of the CAD app.

Best Apps for Urban Planning in 2022

Mobile apps continue to redefine the practices of planning—urban planning, regional planning, transportation planning, community planning, and rural planning included.

February 28, 2022 - James Brasuell

Pedestrian Safety

Against Victim Blaming

One common scapegoat for rising pedestrian death rates is "distracted walking." But there is little reason to believe that smartphone-wielding pedestrians are a major cause of roadway carnage.

March 9, 2021 - Michael Lewyn


Real-Time Art Installation Reveals the Many Dimensions of Data

Using a wagon filled with phones, an artist in Berlin demonstrated the disconnect between data and the real world.

February 19, 2020 - Vice

Dockless Bikeshare

'Today’s Dockless Bike-Sharing Systems Are Wild Systems'

Dockless bikes offer the unexpected and help users navigate and understand the urban environment in new and different ways.

February 16, 2020 - Next City


Smart Phones and Urban Change in the 2010s

According to the architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, smart phone technology enabled the most profound changes in Philadelphia during the 2010s.

January 1, 2020 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

GIS Mobile App

Top Planning Apps for 2019

Insights into the mobile app technology used in the practice and study of planning.

July 29, 2019 - James Brasuell

Wireless Internet

4 Regulatory Complications of 5G Infrastructure Development

The implementation of 5G Internet infrastructure raises fundamental questions about how private companies operate in the public realm. Don't expect easy answers.

May 9, 2019 - Kayla Matthews

Bus and Subway Times

The Best Planning Apps

Planetizen is pleased to present the best of the latest crop of mobile apps by planners and for planners.

May 31, 2018 - James Brasuell

Free Floating Bikeshare

Survey: What Are Your Favorite Planning Apps?

We're updating the annual Top Apps for Planning list, and we want your input.

March 14, 2018 - Planetizen

Metro Gold Line

Coming to L.A. Transit in 2018: Smartphone Fare Payment

Los Angeles is planning to join the ranks of cities that will allow transit fare payment by smartphone app. The scope of benefits offered by app-based fare payment is still under development.

January 7, 2018 - Curbed Los Angeles

Denver Light Rail

Denver-Area Transit Users Can Use Smartphones to Pay Their Fare

The Regional Transportation District hopes that the ability to pay transit fares by smartphone will remove the frustration of waiting in line and searching for correct change.

November 5, 2017 - The Denver Post

Text and Drive

Dearth of Data Masks Scale of Distracted Driving Fatalities

Bloomberg links the uptick in traffic fatalities throughout the United States to rising smartphone use while driving.

October 24, 2017 - Bloomberg

Transit Riders in Portland Can Pay Their Fare With Their Smartphones

Introducing the Hop Fastpass system.

August 28, 2017 - The Oregonian

Mobile Apps Provide the Ultimate Guide to Los Angeles

Get this guide for 21 apps and services for enjoying the city of Los Angeles to its fullest, whether you're a resident or a visitor.

February 17, 2016 - Netted

Cars in the snow

It's Snowing—There's An App for Tracking That

A snow storm came through overnight, your street hasn't been cleared. When can you expect to have your street cleared? Cities are increasingly providing snowplow tracking information to residents.

January 11, 2016 - Jennifer Evans-Cowley

Strava Proposal

Fitness Apps Are the New Planning Tool

Many smartphone users have a fitness app that they use to track their routes and progress on fitness goals. The data in these apps is a gold mine for planners, helping lead to better infrastructure investments.

April 3, 2015 - Jennifer Evans-Cowley

Cell Phones Fail the Eyeball Test for Public Safety

Citing anecdotal evidence from Montgomery County, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and China, a Washington Post article argues that cell phones are creating public safety concerns.

September 22, 2014 - The Washington Post

Chinese City Installs Special Lanes for Distracted Walkers

In both a literal and figurative sign of the times, the Chinese city of Chongqing recently installed signage and marking to segregate pedestrian traffic between smartphone users and those walking free of such technological distractions.

September 16, 2014 - The Washington Post

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Top Books

An annual review of books related to planning.

Top Websites

The best of the Internet—since 2002.

Top Apps

Planning apps for a brave new world.

Top Schools

The definitive ranking of graduate planning programs.

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.