Lyndon Henry

Visualizing the Urban Future With Analytics

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BethSchultz
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Re: So cool
BethSchultz   10/3/2013 9:15:40 AM
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I think it's incumbent upon cities to show their tech-savviness, to good purpose. Sounds like Austin understands that fairly well.

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: So cool
Lyndon_Henry   10/3/2013 8:30:56 AM
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..

Beth asks


Would you expect to see more community involvement now -- bringing people into the process who otherwise wouldn't have been able to visualize development plans enough to be valuable in the evaluation and decision-making?


 

Beth, the data visualization graphics are pretty spectacular, at least, to those of us involved in urban and transport planning, and in comparison to the past. But they're not a 3D IMAX movie. (Maybe that needs to be the next level?)

I don't think the graphics alone will draw in new crowds. Instead, I think better, more democratic public participation modalities would offer a significantly stronger incentive (e.g., real public meetings -- we're currently having a debate in Austin over this issue).

But I do think these new 3D graphic data visualization capabilities will provide members of the community a more pleasing experience and better understanding of plans and options. That in turn could likely entice more people to attend public activities and be less intimidated by the prospect of a barrage of information and choices.

This could particularly happen as the visualization tools are made more accessible and "democratized", so PC monitors and tablets at neighborhood-level meetings would be able to show them, and eventually the public in general could simply use their own PCs and devices to link to, say, the SPP and view them at their leisure. Gaining that capability is definitely on Dr. Navratil's agenda.

 

BethSchultz
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Re: So cool
BethSchultz   10/1/2013 8:32:29 AM
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@Lyndon, impressive! I've never been to Austin, but one day perhaps I'll visit and ride the rails knowing your hand in developing the system. I can certainly understand why you're excited about the visualization capability. Would you expect to see more community involvement now -- bringing people into the process who otherwise wouldn't have been able to visualize development plans enough to be valuable in the evaluation and decision-making?

Maryam@Impact
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Objective Fact based decisions
Maryam@Impact   9/30/2013 4:42:21 PM
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Lyndon I love your objective fact based approach-- it takes the subjectivity and opinions out of the planning process. In my neighboring town there has been a debate about opening a Whole Foods for over a year. All of the discussions are surrounding community implications versus zoning. Your type of analysis would certainly save money and put the best interests of the community in the forefront.

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: So cool
Lyndon_Henry   9/30/2013 3:45:53 PM
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..

Beth asks


So as an Austin resident, do you see yourself getting involved in urban planning thanks to the tool availability?


 

Actually, Beth, I've been involved with Austin urban planning for quite a long time and am credited with having proposed a modern rail transit system for the city and, together with a colleague, conceiving the light railway system Austin now has. He and I also played a pivotal role in helping create Capital Metro, the transit authority.

Currently, urban planning in Austin is strongly anchored around urban rail and regional rail planning efforts.

My MS degree is in Community & Regional Planning so I have a strong professional as well as advocacy interest, and in those roles I've been involved both "outside" and "inside" the official planning process:

• "Outside" proposing light rail and pushing it into the official process, and helping form Capital Metro...

• "Inside" as Capital Metro board member...

• "Outside" advocating different approaches to implementing workable rail transit in Austin...

• "Inside" as data analyst for Capital Metro...

• "Outside" now as community member promoting an alternative approach for urban rail being planned.

I'm actually thrilled by the SPP/TACC analytic tool suite especially because of its amazing visualization capabilities, which truly have catapulted urban planning well ahead for both planners and community members alike. In the bad old days, we had nothing remotely like this kind of capability to use in trying to understand and communicate the potential results of planning decisions.

 

BethSchultz
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Re: So cool
BethSchultz   9/30/2013 12:59:02 PM
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So as an Austin resident, do you see yourself getting involved in urban planning thanks to the tool availability?

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: So cool
Lyndon_Henry   9/30/2013 11:24:57 AM
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..

Beth writes


it'll be interesting to see which other urban areas do tap the experience and expertise the team is developing in Austin. Cool stuff. 


 

It may take time, but I think they've established a new higher bar here that urban planning just about everywhere will eventually need to meet.

Lyndon (now back in Austin)

Maryam@Impact
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Bring it here!
Maryam@Impact   9/30/2013 11:09:26 AM
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Yes Lyndon, I would love to see it. I live in suburban NJ and our planning board literally spends months embroiled in discussions about development with both sides hiring lawyers, environmentalists traffic specialists etc. It is truly painful to see these battles continue for months.  This type of analytics could put an end to these types of battles and get towns moving toward positive development that creates jobs, housing and infrastructure.

BethSchultz
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Re: So cool
BethSchultz   9/30/2013 8:19:34 AM
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@Lyndon, it'll be interesting to see which other urban areas do tap the experience and expertise the team is developing in Austin. Cool stuff. 

 

Pierre DeBois
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Re: Effective?
Pierre DeBois   9/29/2013 9:19:18 PM
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Broadway, to extend rbaz's point, many of the best decisions for civic projects and urban development usually take a longer arc than a politician's career. The hard part is timing the consequences during a politician's term. Outside of a scandal, the two rarely meet. But you certainly raise a key outlook, on in this case, lack of one.

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