On Friday the thirteenth, a group of planners, transportation experts, sociologists, and techies joined together for an intimate dialogue hosted by The Open Planning Project (TOPP) and the Regional Planning Association (RPA). Perched on top of 148 Lafayette, we gathered to discuss "New Technology for Participatory Planning". A series of "lightning talks" revolved around the potential of evolving technologies to simultaneously address planning challenges and open communication barriers.
The Open Planning Project acts as an advocate and resource for those who wish to understand the planning of cities around them. TOPP is about to launch a new community-based planning tool using open-source software, where those interested in planning can converge online.
My take-away moment of the day was found in the group discussions centered on two questions (trade-offs: are they more perceived than real? and the DIY approach to planning – how far can this go and still be effective?) I also came away with a new arsenal of cool planning, mapping, and transportation-related websites.
A few of my favorites: allourideas.org (based off of the popular site, kittenwar.com), bike planner (for those interested in mapping, sharing, finding their bike route), connectingnyc.org (cyber land-use tool), NYCity Map (interactive city map for public use), OasisNYC.net (community mapping), green maps system (a way to think green while mapping), and The Linux Foundation.
I think about how the High Line project got started – our very technologically advanced (for the time) Yahoo Group was crucial for staying in touch with our supporters. It's inspiring to see, ten years later, a new generation of planning projects harnassing the power of interactive technology, while keeping in mind that at the end of the day, "planning and communities are really all people with human needs."