Thursday, November 2, 2017

Planning: Democratized and playful

A speaker at Sarasota's Florida House offered a glimpse into the ways that high tech can combine with simple "low touch" methods to empower and broaden the reach of community-based planning initiatives.

Using a Smart Table, Ken Snyder of Denver-based Radian|Placematters presented an assortment of practical and proactive tools that his firm has used with communities around the world. Tools such as mobile polling apps help gather ideas from residents and stakeholders, or enable area residents to explore alternative scenarios.

Reaching into an entire community allows the planning process to tap local knowledge in ways that can add value and insight to key decisions.

Some of the methods involve play -- pop-up playgrounds, for example, that can be set up in an impromptu fashion after a design session with children who then use it -- designing, making, and enjoying the finished product all in one.

Such methods "get people engaged," said Snyder. They "activate the space," allowing for alternative scenarios to be explored inexpensively.

The process of envisioning not only offers alternative scenarios, but develops a portrait of the value priorities specific to a locale. With that insight a plan can take shape that "connects values and strategies," said Snyder.

Smart Table
Some techniques employ sophisticated programs, like a cloud-based facility that does simultaneous translation in real time. Others use simple tools -- blocks or other visual components -- enabling the planning process to overcome traditional barriers of language, age and background, Snyder said. This all contributes to a trend he's seeing which he calls "the democratization of planning."

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