I recently returned from a gathering in Salt Lake convened by the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy and Sonoran Institute in concert with partners including us (PlaceMatters), OpenPlans, Fregonese Associates, the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning (our gracious host), and Decision Commons. The agenda was ambitious but the conversations were deep and meaningful.
This convening (the Open Source Planning Tools Symposium) was just about 2 days of rolling up our sleeves and figuring out what it will take to move mature and emerging tools to greater use and refinement to tackle the greatest challenges of our day. There were 36 people in attendance representing non-profits, regional and local government, scenario tool developers, private firms, and universities.
Part of the agenda included working on edits and recommendations to a Policy Focus Report on this topic that will be published right around the National APA conference by Lincoln with contributions from OpenPlans, Sonoran, PlaceMatters, Decision Commons and Fregonese among many others helping with edits and filling in gaps. Additionally, this group talked about a range of topics to really advance this effort into the next year. These topics included ways in which university curricula could prepare planners with scenario planning skills, data standards and interoperability among tools, sample work programs for regional support, indicators for social equity, and developing clearer approaches to linking planning needs to available tools.
The group was action oriented and very excited to keep the work going before another convening sometime next year. We will continue to support that conversation using the Open Source Planning Tools Ecosystem (OSPT-Ecosystem) Google Group. If you are interested in getting involved, feel free to join the group and peruse previous notes from our calls. Materials will also be available online that came out of this meeting and we will want to engage a broad and deep network of people as we move this effort forward.
On a personal note, I am very excited about all of this and this has become my “extracurricular” work for now as we figure out how to build out the Decision Lab’s capacity to support open source planning tools and scenario planning practice across the country. We will be building a basic page on the PlaceMatters’ website as a hopeful precursor to something bigger. Check back for that soon. This will be a place where you can learn about the ongoing activities and events related to Open Source Planning Tools and will eventually have a compendium of open source tools.
If you have a perspective on how open source can improve planning tools, let us know on Twitter or below in the comments. More results and documents will follow, so check back on our blog or sign up on the Google group to stay up to date.