[ Ø ] Harsh Prakash – GIS Blog

Quiet Musings On Applied Spatial (Health, Disaster, Technology, Planning et al.)

Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

Meanwhile, Thirteen Years Later…

without comments

So, does it hold up?

The Map (GIS Growth Study) v. The Thing Mapped (Demographics, Plan)

PS: I smell a decentralist –

“A Caveat (from 2001)

Such a planning methodology of data collection and projection does have some intrinsic faults: it relies heavily on knowledge-based skills. It assumes that ‘correct solutions’ to social problems can be obtained from a scientific analysis of various data. It must be noted that a solution-driven approach and heavy reliance on physical sciences as opposed to social sciences, is inherently inaccurate since the ‘best planning answer’ is a non-existent variable, changing with time, society, culture, resource availability, etc. And there is always a danger of being consumed by this technique, and confusing the result for a solution.

The nature of this study involved making some basic assumptions about the way our study-area could evolve in the not-so-distant future. There have been doubts raised about the correctness of such a clinical technique wherein an urban settlement is ‘stripped’ of its various attributes, and these attributes then individually graded. Appreciation of the intricate complexity of human society, where each individual is a separate factor, is absent. Lack of importance to these inter-relationships is a flaw of such an analysis.

For E.g. In the current study, if we were to discover one other attribute, say a desert, how would it affect the final map? We would, using this approach, simply grade each cell one more time. Then we would add this new map to our list of maps, and calculate the new final map. However, we would fail to evaluate how the addition of a desert affects each of the other attributes individually.

But this flaw may not be as aggravated as it seems. Each cell gains its final value from all attributes. If in a hypothetical case, one could gather a ‘complete list of attributes’ that would impact future growth, and assign them ‘correct values’ (without even breaking them into distance-bands which are only for convenience), finally adding them in the ‘right equation’, one would come up with a case-specific fairly accurate growth forecast (however, even then, any sudden future changes would still get missed).

There have also been some other approximations:

* The integer weights assigned to attributes.

* Or, areas outside the study-area that exert significant impact on urban growth, but were ignored because of study limitations.

* Also, on examining the Cultural Points table, it is found that Cemetery was included as a row category. Cultural Points have been considered as having positive influence on future growth. But a cemetery would not have an entirely positive influence on urban growth. Furthermore, parts of UVA were used as cultural points. The university was also used as a major employer. Thus, there has been some overlapping. This results in disproportionate values for some cells.

But this study is an illustration more of a proactive planning approach, than an accurate projection of urban growth for an area. And even though limited in its effectiveness, any attempt to administer planning remedies would have to include some such non-arbitrary problem-solving technique.”

Conference Presentation: GIS TECH 201 – Mapping Mashups

without comments

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Spring 2013 (Conference Edition)

without comments

Written by Harsh

April 8th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Winter 2013

without comments

Written by Harsh

February 19th, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Summer/Fall 2012

with one comment

Written by Harsh

October 5th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Spring 2012

with one comment

Written by Harsh

April 12th, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Winter 2011

without comments

Written by Harsh

April 11th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Report: Summer 2011

without comments

This report provides a description of existing services, both external and in-house, available to APA divisions for hosting and broadcasting webcasts to their members and other interested professionals, and specifically looks at the external Planning Webcast series. In addition, it includes an analysis of options for expanding these services. The report was produced in response to a request from the APA Divisions Council (DC).

Options for Division Webinars: Summer 2011 (PDF, DOC)

Related:
* Planning Webcast series
* APA Audio/Web Conference series

Written by Harsh

September 30th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Education,Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Summer 2011

without comments

Written by Harsh

August 22nd, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Awards for 2011

without comments

Category 4: The award for the ‘Best Paper on Technology in Planning’ goes to Omar J. Peters’ (University at Albany, SUNY) ‘Why-Fi: A Look at Information Technology as a Strategy for Urban Development’ for the outstanding paper on the use of technology in planning.

Our Award Committee comprised of elected members from the Division Leadership, namely Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Amiy Varma and yours truly. Join us at the award distribution ceremony at our Division Business meeting (National Planning Conference) on Sunday, April the 10th (11:45 AM – 1:00 PM) in Beacon G, Sheraton Boston Hotel. Congratulations again to our award winner!

Related:
* Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Awards for 2010

Written by Harsh

March 30th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Education,Planning,Technology

Tagged with

Interview: Senator Cardin, Maryland, speaks on transportation (2009)

without comments

This is a little fresh air for an old post that was collecting cobwebs as a draftee:

During this year’s Planner’s Day on Capitol Hill, I got an opportunity to interview Senator Cardin on changing federal policies that affect planning. This is an excerpt from our interview. The full interview can be found at the Division’s website.

Harsh – What are some of your main expectations from the next federal surface transportation bill?

Senator – We face three fundamental challenges with the new transportation bill –

With bridges failing, congested roadways, and transit systems strained to the limit, we need to make a major new investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. According to the US DOT, the average annual cost to maintain both highways and bridges at their current level for the next 20 years could reach $78.8 billion, while it would take approximately $131.7 billion per year to improve the condition of both highways and bridges Those figures don’t include the billions more needed for our transit systems and their needed expansions. We must act to make a major new investment in a system that is under extreme stress.

Our transportation policy needs to be reoriented to the nation’s needs in the new century. We need to better integrate our various modes of transportation for handling the nation’s commercial goods. That includes freight rail, harbors, and highway trucking routes, including their interconnection to air freight facilities. Our current system for moving people to and from their work, schools, and recreation also will need to be fundamentally rethought. That will mean a much greater focus on mass transit, alternative modes of transportation, smart growth, reduction in the number of vehicle miles traveled as a policy goal, and so much more. We need a transportation policy that supports our goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reduces the generation of greenhouse gases. The new surface transportation law will not accomplish all of these changes overnight, but the new bill should put us on a fundamentally different path than we have taken in the past.

We will need to explore new ways to fund our national transportation programs. Our current reliance on a static “gas tax” is already coming up short: $8 billion in the current fiscal year. If we are successful in moving more commuters out of their cars and into buses and subways, we will see those gas tax revenues decline, not increase. If we are successful in encouraging people to live where they work and to telecommute, gas tax receipts will fall even further.

Harsh – Given the bridge tragedy in Minneapolis last year and the subsequent findings of the National Transportation Safety Board, do you support in principle the National Plan for Infrastructure Investment, and also as a way to stimulate our economy in a time of financial uncertainty?

Senator – The collapse of the I-35 Bridge was a tragedy for Minnesota and for the nation. The bridge failure resulted in 13 deaths. The accident has already spurred the nation into action.

There are approximately 600,000 bridges on highways throughout the United States. About 51 percent of bridges are state owned, 47 percent are locally owned, and less than two percent are owned by the Federal government or private entities. National surveys indicate that nearly one-quarter of all these bridges are structurally deficient.

In addition to the funds provided directly for the repair of the I-35 Bridge, the Congress provided $1 billion in special funding to address our structurally deficient bridges. Of the 2,584 bridges along the Maryland State highway system, 411 (16 percent) are classified as functionally obsolete.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, the Nation, and others are calling for major infrastructure investments. I support a sustained effort to rebuild our national infrastructure. Doing so will provide an immediate stimulus to our economy and give us the network we need to restore the health of our commercial sector.

PS: Thanks to Mike Burke for arranging this!

Related:
* Senator Benjamin Cardin (Wikipedia)
* US Department of Transportation
* US National Transportation Safety Board
* Planning & Technology Today (2009)
* US GPO
* US Green Building Council
* Data 360

Written by Harsh

February 18th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Webinar Series: GIS TECH 101 – Mapping Mashups

with 6 comments

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Awards for 2010

with 2 comments

Category 1: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology to Improve a Plan or Planning Process’ goes to Marc Schlossberg‘s (University of Oregon) ‘Engaging Citizens in Active Transportation Planning with Mobile GIS‘ for its creative use of technology in improving planning processes.

Category 2: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology for Public Participation’ goes to Michael Baker Jr.‘s ‘More For 1604 Social Media Program‘ for its good use of technology to enhance public involvement and participation in planning and decision making processes.

Category 3: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology for a University Urban and Regional Planning Program’ goes to the School of Policy Planning and Development‘s (University of Southern California) ‘Multimedia Boot Camps‘ for its effective use of teaching with technology in preparing future planners for professional work.

Our Award Committee comprised of elected members from the Division Leadership, namely Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Amiy Varma and yours truly. Join us at the award distribution ceremony at our Division Business meeting (National Planning Conference) on Monday, April the 12th (7 AM) in the Hilton New Orleans Trafalgar Room. Congratulations again to all our award winners!

Related:
* Technology Division of APA
* Planning & Technology Today

Written by Harsh

March 30th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Follow Up [1]: Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality

with 3 comments

Written by Harsh

February 25th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Les Misérables

with 4 comments

America’s 10 Most Miserable Cities
1 Cleveland, Ohio
2 Stockton, Calif.
3 Memphis, Tennessee
4 Detroit, Mich.
5 Flint, Mich.
6 Miami, Fla.
7 St. Louis, Mo.
8 Buffalo, N.Y.
9 Canton, Ohio
10 Chicago, Ill.

Related:
* Cost of Living and Higher Education
* Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality
* Les Misérables by Victor Hugo – Project Gutenberg

Written by Harsh

February 19th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , , , ,

Follow Up [2]: Unshared Sacrifice

without comments

CO2 emissions per capita: Carbon dioxide emissions in metric tons per capita

Population: Midyear estimates of the resident population

Related:
* Total Area:
#COUNTRY RANK
1 Russia 1
2 Canada 2
3 United States 3
4 China 4
5 Brazil 5
6 India 7
7 France 43
7 Japan 61
8 Germany 62
9 United Kingdom 79
* Follow Up [1]: Unshared Sacrifice
* BRIC
* IBSA

Written by Harsh

February 3rd, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Webinar Series – TECH 101: Mashups for Planning

with 2 comments

Written by Harsh

February 18th, 2009 at 7:30 am

GISP and AICP

with 2 comments

Although I am still on the fence on GISP given the relative lackluster, what APA has done with AICP‘s CM could give it some shine when it comes to creating a provider ecosystem.

To quickly fill you in: Last year at its Leadership Meetings, APA launched the CM program for AICP. In short, it required professional planners to continuously seek training in order to maintain their certifications, and allowed 3rd-party providers to offer that training.

For SIS, adopting a similar approach would require forsaking a fee-centric approach, letting someone like OGC bite a bigger share and sinking deeper into some sort of GIS accreditation, far beyond ESRI Authorized Training Program, before the “Surveyor Usurp” (see below).

–π

Related:
The Status of Professional Certification in GIS – Conclusion:
“GIS application areas range from engineering to computer and information sciences, geography, business, logistics, forestry, and many other academic and professional preparation fields. Because GIS professionals come from a wide variety of backgrounds and academic preparation, no one group can claim to represent all approaches and applications within the GIS community. Also, given the volatile nature of the field, and the rapid change currently underway in software development and application deployment, adequate preparation today does not guarantee competency in the future. For these reasons, an overarching program to ensure appropriate professional preparation and competency must be developed by those parties interested in safeguarding the viability of the field and the competency of those claiming professional status.

It is unlikely that voluntary certification can assure competency across the profession if most practitioners choose not to be certified or if employers don’t insist that their employees be certified. Therefore, it is essential that benefits of certification be clearly articulated. By including a wide range of professional organizations within the certification development process, and working to include the interests of all GIS professionals by developing both a reasonable core set of competencies and appropriate specialized evaluations within the certification process, all groups will benefit from certification.”

� Groups – “The Usurp“: Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI), Australia and Board of Surveying and Spatial Information, New South Wales, Australia

� Degrees: University of Southern Queensland, Australia – Bachelor of Spatial Science (BSPS) and Bachelor of Spatial Science Technology (BSST)

� Ideas: For ideas on what required trainings could entail, here’re some courses (article) and my GIS suggestions for AICP’s CM:

— PLAN TECH 101 – Desktop GIS (vendor-neutral) —
Featuring:
– QGIS (opensource)
– ArcGIS (proprietary, $)
– MapInfo (proprietary, $)
Outline:
* Intro to GIS data
– Vector
– Raster
– KML, GML, WMS etc
* How to acquire GIS data – Resources
* How to work with maps – Common tasks
– Geocoding/Geoprocessing
– Spatial analyses
– Editing
– Printing, publishing
* Intro to spatial databases
* Best practices
* What lies ahead – Industry trends
* Other notable resources – handy tools and hacks

— PLAN TECH 102 – webGIS (vendor-neutral) —
Featuring:
– Mash-Up APIs
– Google Maps (proprietary, free)
– ArcWebServices (proprietary, $)
– Virtual Globes
– NASA World Wind (opensource)
– Google Earth and SketchUp (proprietary, free versions)
– IMS
– MapServer (opensource)
Outline:
* Intro to webGIS
* How to mash-up
– Text to maps etc
– How to use MapMaker, MyMaps and Charts
– License considerations
* How to use Virtual Globes
– How to add placemarks, polygons, photographs etc
– How to georeference photographs
– How to create network links
– How to create tours
– License considerations
– Other presentation considerations
– 3D models
* Intro to in-house interactive mapping
– How to set-up and serve
* Best practices
* What lies ahead – Industry trends
* Other notable resources – handy tools and hacks

— PLAN TECH 103 – Web 2.0 (vendor-neutral) —
Outline:
* Intro to Web 2.0
* How to set-up
– CMSs
– Blogs and forums
– Mailing lists
– webGIS
– Mash-Ups
* How to use Social Networking
– YouTube
– MySpace
– Facebook
* License considerations
* Intro to Section 508
– Guidelines
– Resources
– Tips
* Best practices
* What lies ahead – Industry trends
* Other notable resources – handy tools and hacks

Written by Harsh

July 11th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

Posted in Geography,Planning

Tagged with , , ,

Mash-ups as Planning Tools

with 5 comments

Planning departments, especially those of smaller cities, have long hesitated because of technology, budgetary and other constraints to engage their constituents through web-based mapping tools. Part of the reason is simply an uneasiness with Web 2.0-esque mapping technologies.

Well, these days they have less to worry about. That is, if they don’t mind piggy-backing on corporate giants.

Pi: Quite MusingRecently, the BurbankLeader reported on how the City of Burbank, Los Angeles County, California, the not-so-undisputed “Media Capital of the World” with a comfortable population of 104,317 (2006), has trusted some online service providers and their armies of 24/7 network-support staff to host part of its mapping data. Not a mash-up feat by today’s standards, but the City has invited public input by publishing its planning project status using Google Maps‘s free Application Programming Interface (API).

According to the City’s Principal Planner Michael Forbes, AICP, “the planning projects map, run by Google, is an interactive list of all residential, commercial and industrial projects throughout Burbank that are being processed or have been recently approved or denied. Each project icon on the map includes information about the project and a link to its current status.”

Pi: Quite Musing

Pre-computed KMLs load faster than dynamic KMLs for obvious reasons, but even with clusters, loading a lot of data can sometimes stretch mash-ups beyond their user's patienceA note of caution for the impatient GIS Planner: While nowadays, a mash-up is more than a hack, most public map APIs are still constrained by their ask-coordinates-get-flat-tile design, albeit smart, when it comes to geometry-aware mapping that requires ‘queriable geometry’.
Pi: Quite Musing
Consequently, despite the established familiarity of mash-ups, the appropriateness of such mash-ups to enterprise GIS for large-scale custom mapping is still debated.

Pi: Quite MusingThen there is that question of commercial advertisements on publicly-funded maps. Note that there are ways around it: Google Maps for Enterprise, for one, allows the option to disable location-based advertising for an annual fee. The free Google Maps also requires map and custom data to be publicly-accessible. But as far as the cause of community’s access to information is concerned, it is well-served by such mash-ups.

So nearly two years after chicagocrime.org– the seminal Google mash-up that won the 2005 Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism and was named by the New York Times as one of 2005’s best ideas (“It turns out that the best way to organize much of the information online is geographically.” – Do-It-Yourself Cartography, NYT), arrived at the mapping scene followed by hordes of Google Earth KMLs; At a time when some Elite Systems Research Institutes have already tried similar approaches and not quite succeeded; At a time when companies have been successfully built from mash-ups; At a time when real-estate mash-ups have become stale and foreclosure mash-ups have become hot; ‘smallish’ planning departments are warming up to the idea of neogeographic mash-ups as planning tools. Finally.

— π

Related:
Online Tool Spotlight: Mash-Ups as Planning Tools (Summary)
Planning and Technology Today: Technology in Public Participation (Issue 90, Fall 2007) – A Publication of the Technology Division of the American Planning Association
Neogeography 101: Word Association
Google Earth [GE] @ Work
Follow Up [1]: ESRI Ketchup!
Follow Up [4]: Graphic Software
Follow Up [2]: Map Viewer and Google
Virtual Earth For Government
ESRI ArcWeb Services: Pricing Guide
* Find sample region by geometry – $0.02
* Get map of region – $0.02
* Zoom in/out of above map – $0.02
* Find places – $0.02
* Measure distance on map – $0.00
� Other Examples: OpenLayers – Web Processing and Routing

Written by Harsh

December 4th, 2007 at 11:39 pm

Posted in Mashup,Planning,Service

Tagged with ,

Follow Up [1]: Unshared Sacrifice

with one comment

Written by Harsh

November 25th, 2007 at 12:36 am

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Unshared Sacrifice

without comments

Written by Harsh

May 27th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality

with one comment

The US Economic Development Administration [EDA], in conjunction with the State of Indiana, has recently released an interesting research titled “The Role of Regional Clusters: Unlocking Rural Competitiveness” [2007] on the benefits of regionalism in rural America.

One of the primary objectives of this research is to help rural America find its competitive edge in our rapidly globalizing world. It accompanies another research in a similar vein named “Rural Clusters of Innovation: Berkshires Strategy Project- Driving a Long-Term Economic Strategy” [2006]– a public-private study funded in part by the US Department of Commerce. These 2 studies follow an earlier precursor report titled “Competitiveness in Rural US Regions: Learning and Research Agenda” [2004] led by the Harvard Business School. That report arrived at 2 main conclusions:

• ‘Capacity for regional innovation is often driven by industry ‘clusters”.
• ‘Clusters also significantly enhance the ability of regional economies to build prosperity’.

First, some quick background:

Clusters– industry and region, have been defined as ‘broad networks of companies, suppliers, service providers, institutions and organizations in related industries that, together, bring new products or services to a market’. A cluster-based approach provides an effective planning tool for economic development in the rural countryside. Graphically, I can summarize a rural cluster like so:

Pi: Quiet Musing [© Imagezoo/Images.com/Corbis]

The research’s findings, lessons, conclusions, recommendations and directions that I found relevant are:

• ‘Labeling a region around a single cluster or economic activity is too simplistic due to considerable co-location of clusters’
• ‘Clusters most strongly associated with higher levels of economic performance are business and financial services; IT and Telecom; and printing and publishing’.
• ‘Human capital, as measured by educational attainment, is the primary factor related to differences in income growth among counties’.

This research also underlines the importance of spatial technologies as follows:

• ‘Much of the analysis of rural America has been overly simplistic. GIS tools and advanced spatial analyses are not commonly used. It is important that greater use of these powerful approaches be applied to a wide range of issues facing rural America’.
• ‘Mapping is particularly helpful to illustrate and communicate data on clusters’.

Some of the maps coming out of this research can be found here.

Anyway, as I see it as a Planner, an uneasy socio-cultural issue remains unenlightened, and that is…

When you take rural America or for that matter rural Anywhere, and strip it of all its social stereotypes and negatives, you are left with something or end up attracting something that is far from rural- something that will jump, skip and run to the New Yorks of our world in time.

Pi: Quiet Musing [© DLILLC/Corbis] Rural Anything does not clamor for riches; it does not yearn for the hustle-and-bustle of urban life, or for its smog-filled jam-packed commute traffic, or for that neck-breaking workday; it is not awed by the many skyscrapers of the City on whom it conveniently blames all social ills; none of the multi-cultural nightlife or rebellious ways.

Pi: Quiet Musing [© Imageplus/Corbis] Rural Anything simply desires simplicity- a dog yawning in the backyard farm; a winding trail to work; free parking; quiet and quaint neighborhoods topped by the clichéd church tucked away inside the folds of its countryside; fishing expeditions on weekends; just yearning to stretch on a summery afternoon without having to worry about city-like pollutions and crimes; content only to drift and conform to its tightly-knit value-system.

It is a different “make” of people.

How then do you convince it to join the rat-race?

–π

PS:
• As I see it, Relative Rurality- a measure used in this research, helps answer the age-old question: How far would the dollar go? Roughly, the higher the Relative Rurality, the further the dollar would go
Pi: Quiet Musing

Related:
• More
• Even More
• A Lot More

Written by Harsh

March 21st, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,

Follow Up [2]: Katrina Links

with one comment

Former senator Stafford of Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, familiar to anyone requesting, managing and mapping disaster grants under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program [HMGP] AKA Buyout Program, dies at 93.

Related:
“FEMA Told to Resume Storm Aid”
• Blogs about this article
• “Katrina Victims in Limbo as FEMA Appeals Aid Order”
• Government Accountability Office [GAO] Report: Abstract– Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Disaster Relief. Continued Findings of Fraud, Waste and Abuse. GAO-07-252T. December 6, 2006
• Video: Reactions from the Grassroots– Effects of Flood Map Modernization [Map Mod] Program’s Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps [DFIRMs] on National Flood Insurance Program’s [NFIP’s] Ordinance Updates
• Pre-Disaster Mitigation [PDM] Grant Program

Written by Harsh

December 23rd, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Interview: Ric Stephens, Immediate Past Editor, Technology Division of the American Planning Association [APA]

without comments

As the Secretary/Treasurer of the Technology Division of APA, I recently had the opportunity to interview Ric Stephens, our Immediate Past Editor:

Harsh: So what got you into planning and publishing/editing?
Ric: I worked as a cartographer/German language translator for USAID during college and was hired by a civil engineering firm to prepare maps during summer break.

After school, the firm offered me a job in their planning department and …voila! There are still some plat maps on file from the late 70s with elaborate compass roses for north arrows. I began helping with a local APA section newsletter out of curiosity. A quarter of a century and thousands of newsletters later, I am still interested in desktop publishing.

InfoTEXT began as a paste-up effort ten years ago and is now ‘completely digital’. I’m still helping with two APA newsletters, ‘Private Practice Perspectives’ and ‘Mountains and Shores’. I’ve also published two books: ‘Plannerese Dictionary’ and ‘International Planning Organizations’ and am working on a third, ‘Dark and Stormy Planning Prose’.

Harsh: Any favorite planning story that you edited?
Ric: There are three unique stories-

Pi: Quiet Musing
Ric Stephens at the Street of Dreams

For several years, I organized the ‘Dark and Stormy Planning Prose Contest’ to collect and share humorous planning stories. One of my favorites is the 2002 Winner, ‘Zone Noir’ by Michael Young who merged the feel of a 50s detective novel with current planning issues. It’s hard to imagine, but Dr. Seuss wrote a humorous poem on regulating signage for the city of La Jolla, California!

Lastly, while living in California, I received ‘The Story of Sexton Mountain Meadows‘. It revolves around the continuous removal of the ‘t’ from ‘Sexton’. I now live a few miles from this very street in Beaverton, Oregon and am a Planning Commissioner for the City. I found the listed author, but he denies writing the story and referred me to a blog author who remembers the incident, but also denies writing the story. The mystery continues to this day.

I am still collecting stories and if you have a ‘hearing from hell’, ‘purple planning prose’ or other contributions, please email a copy to ric@alphacommunity.com.

Harsh: Any thoughts on the New Media?
Ric: We are far from reaching a paperless office environment, but we are clearly moving towards digital information and communication technologies.

For planning in particular, it is an exciting time to expand GIS with numerous databases including satellite imagery. The REAL CORP 007 event will showcase some of these outstanding IT innovations. Our firm, Alpha Community Development, is developing software to link our projects with these databases. We are also developing project-specific websites and looking for new ways to provide online project management.

Harsh: Any thoughts on increasing readership for the Technology Division?
Ric: InfoTEXT contributors have provided outstanding content that is very relevant to practicing planners, agency officials, educators and students. I believe the missing element is visibility.

It would also be helpful for APA to actively promote the Divisions, and for the Divisions to have programs to promote the newsletters to planning departments, governmental agencies, universities and other institutions.

Harsh: And finally, any advice to the new editor[s] of the Technology Division?
Ric: It’s very difficult to find contributors for articles- I’m several weeks late in responding to this interview.

Having a large group of people to help gather material would be ideal. As the newsletter migrates to the web, the publication should probably adapt a monitor-friendly format and be rich in hyperlinks. I enjoyed editing InfoTEXT and am indebted to all who helped make this a memorable experience.

Harsh: Thank you and good luck!
Ric: Thanks!

Related:
• Planning Publications Directory
• What’s New: Books and Documents

Written by Harsh

October 29th, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Follow Up [1]: Katrina Links

without comments

Written by Harsh

August 16th, 2006 at 10:11 pm

Katrina Links

without comments

Rethinking Flood Insurance” [09/21/2005]: A timely but poorly-researched editorial in The Washington Post on the levee problems plaguing the National Flood Insurance Program.

As much as some may cringe to what they see as their tax-dollars being spent on bail out, the often-omitted fact remains that many New Orleanians were not required by the National Flood Insurance Program to purchase flood insurance because they enjoyed the protection of levees. So the federal government through the Corps of Engineers is at least partly responsible for creating a false sense of security by failing to repair levees in a timely manner. Bear in mind that the State of California has been asked by its court to shoulder responsibility for damages from failure of levees for which it is a sponsor. And if we did not cry “welfare state” when the federal government stepped in to ease out the airline industry after 2001, surely we can hush our moans now.

For more discussion points, refer to this white paper by the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

While on this disaster as one watches events unfold, it becomes clear that an infuriating management style marked by a “hands-off” approach that is prone to making excuses for ignored red flags can only get rewarded for ideological and rhetorical reasons rather than merit. And such a management style finds a willing bed-partner in a “let’s-eat-at-steakhouse-since-the-proceeds-go-towards-relief-efforts” empathy-response. In itself, such a response cannot be right all the time for it is primarily detached and “feel good”.

The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 had laid down clear requirements to plan for such events. And as I understand, the National Incident Management System laid down a similar framework with regards to response-coordination. But no amount of planning [State of Louisiana Hazard Mitigation Plan, State of Alabama Hazard Mitigation Plan] could prevent the failure from happening.

Having observed this breakdown in leadership and with some benefit of experience, I cannot stress enough how planners should restrict their impulse to pen a plan for every problem and how they should also focus on becoming “political actors” for one cannot write a plan that accounts for the failure in carrying out the plan itself.

On another note, many of the residents of New Orleans were not required by the National Flood Insurance Program to purchase flood insurance since they were protected by levees. Although non-discriminatory exceptions can always be made, this further complicates relief efforts as it currently limits the amount of disaster assistance available through certain agencies.

Related:
• Blogs about this editorial
• Katrina
• Craigslist: Lost and Found- New Orleans LA, Baton Rouge LA
• WIKI
• Red Cross: Family Links Registry
• Lycos: Missing Persons Search
• Housing Information Gateway
• Shelter Map
• Information Map
• ESRI: Katrina Disaster Viewer
• Google Earth: Imagery
• NYT: Draining New Orleans Map
• Contact: Mitigation Planners and Substantial Damage Assessors

Written by Harsh

September 21st, 2005 at 7:09 pm

Declaration of Interdependence

without comments

“As we become aware of the ethical implications of design, not only with respect to buildings, but in every aspect of human endeavour, they reflect changes in the historical concept of who or what has rights. When you study the history of rights, you begin with the Magna Carta which was about the rights of white, English, noble males. With the Declaration of Independence, rights were expanded to all landowning white males. Nearly a century later, we moved to the emancipation of slaves and during the beginnings of this century, to suffrage, giving the right to women to vote. Then the pace picks up with the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and then in 1973, the Endangered Species Act. For the first time, the right of other species and organisms to exist was recognised. We have essentially “declared” that Homo Sapiens are part of the web of life. Thus, if Thomas Jefferson were with us today, he would be calling for a Declaration of Interdependence which recognises this. This Declaration of Interdependence comes hard on the heels of realising that the world has become vastly complex, both in its workings and in our ability to perceive and comprehend those complexities. In this complicated world, prior modes of domination have essentially lost their ability to maintain control. The sovereign, whether in the form of a king or nation, no longer seems to reign”.

William McDonough [WIKI]; Architect, William McDonough Architects; Centennial Sermon On the 100th Anniversary of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Related:
• 2004 National Design Awards: Environment Design Finalists
• Virginia Association for Mapping and Land Information Systems 2001 Annual Scholarship: Growth Study for Charlottesville VA for 2000-2030- Analysis and Possible Energy-Conscious Applications

Written by Harsh

June 5th, 2005 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , ,

Making Public Policy: A Nutshell

without comments

Nutshell: “‘Substituting tax-increase with state lottery’ [Policy – Director/Manager/Planner] as a means to generate additional revenue. Here, it becomes important to first find the ‘percentage of non-gamblers/gamblers/disinterested in the effected constituency’ [Information – Spatial Analyst] because ‘opposition to such a move is more likely to come from non-gamblers’ [Theory – Planner]”.

Nutshell adapted from [Skinner, B. Beyond Freedom and Dignity. 1971].

Such a policy-decision can then be supported by any of the many preferred values for its successful adoption: Religious Value- ‘Scriptures say lottery is a sin, but taxing is a bigger sin. Hence…’; Nerdy Value- ‘People who are weak in probability must pay for it. Hence…’; and so on.

By similarly lopsiding options and obfuscating issues, policy-makers often nudge the intellectually lethargic mass along a preferred course.

PS:
*• “There is no subjugation as perfect as the one which keeps the appearance of freedom, for in that way, it captures volition itself” [Rousseau, Jean-Jacques].
•* Political Equilibrium
* Operant Conditioning
*
Pi: Quiet Musing
WHERE
SOL = Standard of Life
c = Consumers
l = Labor
p = Producers
e = Environmental Resources

Written by Harsh

February 22nd, 2005 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Planning,Social

Tagged with , ,

Tsunami Links

with one comment

Written by Harsh

January 5th, 2005 at 6:10 pm

Wanted: Proactive Policies

with 2 comments

What is the most effective method to spread the digital wave, especially of the spatial kind, in rural communities and developing countries? The following links offer some fodder, although Korea left the company of developing nations some time ago. A lot of talk has centered around the potential of wireless to bridge the digital chasm between the Knows and the Know-nots in places lacking adequate infrastructure.

• “Broadband Korea”
• “Broadband Wonderland”
• “South Korea leads the way”

More musing on this topic with time.

Related:
• Political Equilibrium

Written by Harsh

November 14th, 2004 at 6:40 pm

Posted in LBS,Planning,Social

Tagged with , , ,