Geodesign Summit

January 23-25, 2018 | Redlands, CA

2017 Speaker Abstracts
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Tuesday, January 24th
Implementing Geodesign Dynamics
5:00 – 6:00pm
Carl Steinitz
How might sea level rise impact planning for green infrastructure and urban development? Have no illusions. Coastal inundation related to sea level rise has begun. Norfolk, Virginia has vertical rulers in low spots on roads, and Miami Beach is investing hundreds of millions to raise roads that disappear during high tides. Hundreds of other coastal cities are at risk. How do you design a planning strategy for future sea rise?
How do you begin to plan a future for a region in the face of hardened political positions derived from a major disaster? Resource extraction is necessary to support the needs of our rapidly growing population. But what if that very extraction threatens the health and well-being of those living near or downstream of a mining or drilling operation?
These are difficult questions and there are no guarantees. The issues are important and the problems are complex, interdisciplinary, multi-scale, and dynamic. A dynamic geodesign approach can be a useful starting point.
Join Carl Steinitz and direct participants as they explore the ways different groups of people went about implementing a geodesign workflow to find a path forward. Four case studies will be presented. Guest speakers include: Christopher Pettit -The Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, Australia, Ana Clara Mouro - The Future of Iron Mining in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Brian Orland - The Future of the Georgia Coastal Zone, USA, Barty Warren - Southern Cache Valley #2, Utah, USA, Hrishi Ballal, Stephen Ervin, and many others.
Wednesday, January 25th
Technology Developments and the Future of Geodesign
9:10 – 9:30am
Jack Dangermond, Esri
Placemaking as Storytelling
9:35 – 9:55am
James Drinan, American Planning Association (APA) Executive Director
The Information Age, with its accelerating pace of technological change and increased complexity of issues, has produced a cultural transformation in how we think and work. As technology makes information readily available, conveying facts in a manner that resonates is increasingly valuable.
As we intersect with design and implementation, planners need the relationships, common language, and resources to align disparate stakeholders and success. As a global resource for community planning in all its manifestations, APA’s mission includes fostering these goals, bringing stakeholders together, and promoting the principles of smart design.
What we are all really doing is working to build a shared vision, and a map, if you will, to guide us on our journey to creating great places. Telling and listening to stories is an essential element of planning, designing and building great places. The power of story transcends the basic presentation of information, and enhances learning. We’ll highlight how we all foster this storytelling, through initiatives with related disciplines, the public sector, educators, citizens, and other audiences. We’ll explore opportunities to partner on new ways to tell the great story of planning.
Analyzing and Communicating the Challenge of Growth with 3D GIS Technology
10:00 – 10:20am
Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, ISSP-SA, Planner, SF Planning Department
What happens when you run out of room? If it’s a house, you can consider an addition, or get a bigger house, or you can go through your closet and start getting rid of stuff. Deciding what to do is not an easy task. It’s often emotional. One of the tactics is to use data. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I wore that?” 10 years ago?! Okay, out it goes! That’s a data-driven decision.
But what if it’s a city bounded on 3 sides by water and appears to the average resident to be fully built out with cherished neighborhoods? Deciding whether to grow, and if so, where to grow, how much to grow, in what form to grow, what to keep, or what to change, is decidedly harder. Raising these questions and providing policy and technical guidance to answering them and frame choices is the job of the planner. But it is not a solo effort—it requires plenty of collaboration, communication, and yes, data. San Francisco has tons of data and statistics on the places, people, and systems that make the city a great place to live. But data alone, is not enough. It has to be used to tell a story—maybe many, connected stories—which ultimately enable decision makers and the public to make the best data-driven decisions possible about their future.
In 2016, the San Francisco Planning Department conducted a preliminary 50-year growth capacity analysis. The City is using the results of that analysis to inform a number of long range land use and transportation planning processes, including as the basis for a set of scenarios to be developed based on community input on values and goals. At the beginning of the analysis, senior managers requested, if possible, the use of more powerful tools—even 3D—to enable better communication, in other words, to tell a good story better!
This presentation will demonstrate some of the ways that the Planning Department is using Esri technology, from powerful geospatial data analytics to new ways to visualize data across the landscape, to both discover meaning and improve communication.
Geodesign Case Studies in Planning and Design
11:20 – 11:40 am
David Early, Senior Consultant, PlaceWorks

Communities around the world are grappling with how best to address issues related to urbanization, climate adaptation, health, and job growth, but to do that in a sustainable development. The State of California has been at the forefront of American efforts in sustainability, and is in the process of implementing cutting edge laws to lessen carbon emissions and enhance community livability.  PlaceWorks has been using a suite of GIS-based tools known as GreenScore to assess sustainability across a variety of planning and design disciplines.  They have expanded beyond the desktop to include web apps and mobile apps to help their clients improve community engagement and collaboration in the planning process. David will showcase projects for Los Angeles, San Diego, Menlo Park (world headquarters of Facebook) and Northern California’s agricultural Butte County to show how geodesign can assess the existing built environment, predict outcomes for new development, and involve community members in the planning process.

Community Growth Planning through Geodesign
11:45 am – 12:05 pm
Candi Millar, City of Billings, MT
The principles of geodesign drove the design, execution and results of the 2016 City of Billings Growth Policy planning process. Faced with the challenges of preparing a value-oriented, data driven, and fiscally constrained growth plan that did not prescribe or mandate actions, the process integrated public opinion with scenario planning. This approach substituted expressed public values for rigidly constructed action plans typical of long range planning documents. The scenario planning quantified the impacts of hypothetical growth patterns constructed to adhere to the values expressed during the public outreach phase of the project. The six growth indicators used reflected the public values of mobility, education, safety and health. The hypothetical growth patterns, along with input from the affected City departments, dictated the quantity and location of the indicator placement. Three cost/benefit analyses were run on the resulting seven scenarios to demonstrate the cost implications of the growth patterns. In terms of cost per dwelling unit, cost per acre and overall return on investment; the compact, mixed housing type growth pattern (Infill) was most cost effective. The process resulted in value based and data supported guidelines for future land use and infrastructure investment decisions.
Mapping, Metrics, and Outreach: Assessing Park Needs in America’s Most Populous County
1:40 – 2:00 pm
Clement Lau, County of Los Angeles, Department of Parks and Recreation
The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation recently completed the Countywide Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment, which was an unprecedented and significant undertaking to engage all 88 cities and unincorporated communities in the County in a collaborative process to gather data and input for future decision-making on parks and recreation. The project’s primary goal was to quantify the countywide magnitude of need for parks and determine the potential costs of meeting that need. This session will tell the story of how L.A. County inventoried and mapped parks and recreational facilities throughout its cities and unincorporated communities to determine the level and extent of park need at a countywide scale. The Parks Needs Assessment involved extensive use of GIS, innovative metrics, and significant community engagement to identify park needs and opportunities. The County has also developed a very informative project website ( which includes an interactive maps tool that enables the public to explore selected maps generated during the Parks Needs Assessment.
The Geodesign Toolshed: Improving Spatial Acuity in the Design Process
2:00 – 2:25 pm
Jake Petrosky, Land Design
Urban planners and landscape architects are increasingly tasked with larger, more complex projects. As design problems grow in complexity and scale, tools, approaches and disciplines are changing. Our ability to understand the built environment has grown by leaps and bounds. So too has our ability to integrate traditional and new workflows that yield a better understanding of the potential implications of design interventions. With a growing variety of digital tools the challenge becomes understanding how best to approach complex issues in order to achieve positive outcomes. This presentation will explore how one design team is evaluating and using several different spatial tools to blur the line between GIS analyst, planner and designer in a diverse range of project settings with the shared goal of better design and smarter cities. A series of case studies will be utilized to convey methods for integrating social, economic and environmental impact analysis, 3D concept development and innovative visualization and engagement techniques into the design process.
Making the Shift to 3D
3:20 – 3:40 pm
Brooks Patrick, Esri
Our world is 3D, but many of our plans and maps are still 2D. When planning for growth, designing new development, or reviewing design plans in your community, you must understand the project’s context. This session will tour real-world case studies that showcase the use of 3D GIS for comprehensive planning, zoning and development capacity analysis, master planning, and the review of proposed development. Today's 3D technology is within reach of every planner and designer where it can help shape better policies and decisions.
3D Comprehensive Planning in Boulder, CO
3:45 – 4:05 pm
Leslie Kunkle Ellis, City of Boulder, CO
A city’s comprehensive plan is a potentially powerful proving-ground for the adoption of new innovative planning technologies and is a leading long range planning policy instrument. Recent advances in 3D GIS technology have enabled the creation of 3D basemaps that can be easily viewed, analyzed, and modified according to proposed planning interventions. 3D has evolved as a GIS technology that enables communities to us web-publishing in addition to traditional desktop scenario evaluation and analysis capability. 3D GIS models are information rich databases that can be used for more direct and tangible application in development review, zoning and growth capacity analysis, land use planning, and community engagement and generating measurable impacts.
Lesli Ellis from City of Boulder will demonstrate the City of Boulder’s evolving web based 3D approach to the most recent Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Update that uses tools to support 3D storytelling and scenario planning based on zoning typologies citywide, including lessons learned and next steps. This session will provide online examples on how 3D can be integrated into the planning process to take comprehensive planning to the next level.
Impacting the Future, How 3D GIS Informs Smart Planning
4:05 – 4:25 pm
Eric Brady, Bergmann & Associates
Planning by its nature is an act of visualizing the future. 3D GIS offers a powerful tool to show the physical representation of future development while acting as an analytical platform to gauge the impacts of growth. Bergmann Associates has leveraged its GIS capabilities and Planning Discipline to develop powerful 3D GIS basemaps and application functionality to support common planning needs. Using a single platform, Planners can test build-out scenarios to gauge the physical impacts of a plan while getting real-time feedback on key sustainability indicators.
Thursday, January 26th
Smart Planning Tools: The Road Ahead
8:40 – 9:00 am
Keith Cooke and Chris Buscaglia, Esri
Within a community planning department, there are dozens of daily and weekly workflows that demand time and resources of the organization. Some of these operations have been automated using customized applications. However, the trend in IT over the last several years has been to move to a more sustainable COTS-based approach. Esri has responded to this need with the development of a suite of configurable, open, and fully-supported solutions that meet the workflows of planners. We’ll examine how these impact the planning organization and look at the road ahead.
Green Infrastructure: A Different Approach to Conserving Richland County’s Natural Assets
9:05 – 9:25 am
Brenda Carter, Richland County
Richland County, South Carolina was once known for its rich fields of indigo and cotton. Its central location in South Carolina made it both an important center of government. Today, that unique past of fertile landscapes is giving way to growing cities. And like many places in the US, the county is striving to balance growth while protecting the natural, life-sustaining systems that enrich people’s lives. And like many counties, resilience planning has become an issue of late. Extreme rain events, failing infrastructure, and flooding have become all too common. Exacerbating the problem is suburban sprawl. Growth has advanced into many areas that were once rural and is converting farms, wetlands, and forests to other uses at an increasingly rapid rate resulting in more impermeable surfaces, and habitat fragmentation. The environmental damage and increased threats to life and property resulted in the formation of a joint taskforce between the county’s Planning GIS Team and the Conservation Department. This presentation will demonstrate how a multi-disciplinary team worked together to evaluate the impact that green infrastructure enhancements could have on improving air and water quality, storm water control, and habitat protection, all while lowering infrastructure costs and threats to property and human safety. The study has convinced the Planning Department of the need for green infrastructure polices. They are now investigating possible policy changes concerning subdivision of land, current and future land use, and comprehensive planning to find more ways to develop smarter.
Green Infrastructure and a Framework for Sustainable Growth
9:30 – 9:50 am
Ryan Perkl, Esri & Joe Liao, Esri
With the addition of the world’s eight billionth inhabitant projected to arrive within the next decade, we face a myriad of global challenges like never before. Chief among them will be striking a sustainable balance between our planets built and natural systems. Green infrastructure - strategically planned and managed network of natural lands, wildlife habitats, open spaces, parks, and other natural assets – provides the necessary counterbalance to built systems affording our communities the vital services needed to enrich and sustain their quality of life. Esri’s Green Infrastructure Initiative aims to equip decision makers with the data, tools, and resources necessary to strike this balance and catalyze the integration of green infrastructure within our planning actions. This session will introduce the initiative and showcase several of its most valuable components for use in your communities. In so doing, we will demonstrate a geospatially enabled green infrastructure planning workflow that leverages freely available online applications and GeoPlanner for ArcGIS, a premium web-based application for fusing data, performing analysis, and engaging in design-based scenario planning. Join us and your peers in championing a more sustainable future for your community and the world.
PDS Planning Harnesses the Power of GIS to Empower Community Collaboration
9:55 – 10:15 am
Emi Randall, Director of Planning and Trisha Brush, GIS Director, Kenton County, Planning & Development Services (PDS)
The New York Department of State’s Office of Planning and Development (OPD) developed the Geographic Information Gateway (Gateway), a new web portal that makes geographic data used by OPD publicly accessible, supports OPD and local government planning activities, and serves as a public communication tool.
LINK-GIS and Planning and Development Services (PDS) of Kenton County, Kentucky showcase a modern, collaborative approach to GIS and planning workflows. This session will highlight how GIS is integrated into numerous planning tasks to generate timely, focused analysis to inform local decision makers and ignite discussions on important current and long-range planning initiatives. These initiatives are enriched by harnessing the power of dynamic web maps and other multimedia content to tell PDS’s story to the public, and also to receive feedback from the public. This creates a greater sense of transparency and accountability in both departments to the public and administration.
The Web GIS pattern is used extensively across initiatives from Direction 2030 (PDS’ Comprehensive Plan for Kenton County) to measuring solar potential, to analyzing urban tree canopy, to assessing walkability and sidewalk connectivity throughout the county. Engaging planning personnel and leadership is a constant goal of LINK-GIS, so that PDS can leverage their subject matter expertise with the right information product.
Stop Learning - Then What?
11:15 – 11:35 am
David DiBiase, Esri
Learning ought to be a way of life for planners and others who rely on rapidly evolving technologies and practices like GIS. Continuing professional development is required for renewal of both AICP and GISP certification. Lifelong learning is a cornerstone of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Geospatial Technology Competency Model. Neuroscientists have even found that the habit of intentional learning can be effective in maintaining the brain’s plasticity and staving off dementia.
Yet, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds that only a minority of European and North American adults participates in formal or informal education, and that the participation rate declines with age. Under-participation in lifelong learning is generally not due to insufficient learning opportunities in these countries, but rather due to insufficient awareness, incentives, and time. What happens when people stop learning?
This presentation will showcase the spectrum of offerings Esri provides to support learning by children, young adults, working professionals, and retirees. Participants will gain awareness of opportunities for learning about GIS and geodesign, and ideas about how to encourage students, colleagues and others to embrace learning as a way of life. If nothing else, attendees may prolong the plasticity of their brains for a little while.
Create What’s Next – Embrace Your Future in Geodesign
11:40 am – 12:00 pm
Kelleann Foster, Pennsylvania State University
Peter Drucker, the influential management thinker, coined the term “the knowledge worker” and stated “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.” In society today, knowledge and learning are more closely linked than ever before. And much of that knowledge now involves deciphering the growing reams of data – and in the case of our interests – geospatial data. How can that best be deployed for maximum benefit of communities, the environment and organizations?
Geodesign offers a tried-and-true design and planning process that can leverage whatever tools and technology are most current. The constant is the process; the continuing evolution is the digital and other tools. As designers, planners and specialists in geospatial technology you already possess some of the key characteristics essential to the geodesign process. Due to your expertise and wealth of experience, you are already well poised to further your understanding and skills to master geodesign.
I am sure you’ve heard this before; it still holds true: You are the master of your own destiny. The world needs your expertise coupled with the geodesign process to tackle increasingly complex land use design and planning issues. Learn how to bring value and innovation to your organization, or to the next era of your career. In this presentation you will learn about a recommended Case Study Method for defining and identifying Geodesign projects and processes. Also covered will be an overview of opportunities that facilitate continuing education in a wide variety of formats, particularly those suited to busy professionals who want to advance their skills without relocating.