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To plan for the people, we need to plan with the people

In my last post on EngageGovToday, I discussed why location intelligence is so crucial in the planning phase of development.

Currently, the entire lifecycle for new development can take 8-10 years from planning to design to building to managing. By embracing location intelligence solutions, the planning phase can be significantly expedited by allowing planners to easily visualize the development and its potential impact on a region and area.

This is great, if all was conducted in a vacuum. When it comes to development planning, there are many stakeholders. To ensure that development is economically, environmentally and socially responsible today, and sustainable for the future, it’s important to give all of these stakeholders a voice.

Whether they’re local homeowners with complaints about the impact that new development will have on traffic patterns, or the local Board of Education with concerns that new high occupancy residential development will strain already packed classrooms, citizens and local leaders are vital to smart growth. All voices need to be considered to ensure all factors are taken into account during the visioning, planning and designing phase of development. This concept is referred to as “planning with people” and when combined with technology, namely social media and online solutions, it is known as “planning 2.0.”

However, planning with people raises it’s own challenges in the planning process. All planning-related activities must be comprehensible, transparent, legitimate, and interactive. All community members also need to be taken into account, which means traditional methods of communications, such as committee and town hall meetings, are no longer adequate alone.

To truly embrace this planning 2.0 concept, information and maps need to be shared with stakeholders. Citizen feedback on proposed projects and land-use changes needs to be aggregated and shared with the community in a “crowdsourcing” methodology. Finally, the public needs to be empowered to make informed decisions about existing and new development.

Luckily, today’s advanced location intelligence solutions can foster the citizen participation that is needed for planning 2.0. Utilizing the maps and information available from location intelligence solutions, planners can reach out to the citizenry through regional social networks and online forums.

Location intelligence solutions can also enable ongoing feedback garnered in these social networks and online groups to be displayed and understood on a map. Areas on a map receiving multiple comments and complaints illustrate a region where planners and leaders need to focus particular attention. Spatial patterns of human behavior can be an indicator of the need for intervention. Ultimately, this empowers citizens to participate in the planning process and ensures those leading the effort are taking citizen concerns into account.

And the community involvement doesn’t need to end with the planning process. Following development, local officials can continue to utilize these shared maps and social networks to gather feedback and information from citizens about how to best manage and operate these community assets.

Are there street corners that are subject to a large amount of criminal activities? Particular regions of the city that aren’t receiving timely and adequate government services? Where and how is taxpayer money being spent? These maps can be utilized for citizens to report issues in a way that is visual and that makes it very easy for government leaders to identify trends and relationships…and resend effectively as a result.

Planning doesn’t happen in a vacuum…unless it’s bad planning. For development to be for the people, it needs to be driven by the people. Today’s location intelligence solutions can give citizens the ability to provide direction and feedback during the planning process while ensuring that development works for citizens today, and is sustainable for tomorrow.

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