How can a region create a shared technical infrastructure for planning? In order to find out, together with a student research assistant Cassie Hackel, I conducted an exploratory study of an effort to build such a system in Southern California. Here is the abstract of the paper which resulted from our research project:
Although planning support systems are being more widely adopted by professional planners, there are very few examples of planning support system infrastructures designed to support planning practices on an ongoing basis. This paper reports the result of an exploratory qualitative study of the Southern California Association of Governments’ Scenario Planning Model, an innovative new planning support system infrastructure. Interviews with professionals who served as participants in a two-year development process were conducted to explore the six dimensions that theories from the planning support systems, innovation diffusion, and organizational information technology fields suggest are important to understanding the adoption and use of a planning support system infrastructure: user considerations, perceived benefits, technical details, the development process, jurisdiction characteristics, and planning style. Drawing on these interviews, the article proposes seven lessons for the creation of planning support system infrastructures: utilize participatory design, support a variety of planning practices, address indirect costs to users, encourage collaboration among multiple users within each organization, ensure that all stakeholders have appropriate access, be mindful of the framing of new technologies, and embrace their transformational potential. Although the Scenario Planning Model has benefited from California’s unique planning mandates, advances in web-based geospatial technologies mean that many regions may draw on these lessons to create similar planning support system infrastructures, which have the potential to improve local and regional planning practices through enhanced information, analysis, and communication.
See the full article in Environment and Planning B (scholars without access can contact me for a copy)