Community Development

APA’s Passport Taking a Geographic Approach to Learning

One of the more innovative initiatives from the American Planning Association (APA) has been the development and growth of their Passport program. Passport is a subscription program that provides unlimited access to APA’s extensive online learning library.  For planners with AICP accreditation, Passport provides over 100 hours of CM-eligible content.  While planners are the primary audience for Passport, there is a great deal of content for those that work with planners, but may not be a planning professional, such as a planning commissioner, city councilor, or city/county administrator.  Topics such as preparing for electric mobility, trends in green affordable housing, brownfield site transformation, and economic development essentials are all covered in Passport.  Now, a city manager can quickly gain insight into how their city’s planning practice can tackle climate change, housing issues, transportation, and more without going to a multi-day conference.

GIS has steadily become a mission-critical business system within planning offices around the world. More planners are embracing a geographic approach to planning, and GIS provides the data-driven approach to make that happen.  Given this evolution, it is a natural fit for GIS to be an integral part of APA’s Passport program.  That is why Esri is proud to continue its long-standing support of APA by contributing 32 courses to Passport.  Most of these courses are web-based, meaning that subscribers won’t have to have Desktop GIS software on their machine to be able to run most of the courses in the catalog.

Some of the featured courses include:

Several of the courses are phased courses, where you a provided an introduction, followed by more detailed training. The introduction courses are particularly useful as they help users get a better understanding of the whether the training is useful for them without making a significant time investment.

A partial list of the Esri course catalog now available in APA’s Passport.

Joel Albizo, the CEO of APA, is particularly excited about the impact of the Passport program, and rightfully so. “Passport is a subscription-based online learning library published by the American Planning Association, and we’re thrilled to announce the addition of 32 planning-focused GIS Courses from ESRI as part of our long-standing partnership to support professionals who create great communities for all. It’s another convenient way to access ESRI learning and other useful content. From planning basics to ‘Upskilling’ topics like how to use ChatGPT in planning, Passport is a convenient, affordable resource to help stay relevant and valued in fast changing times.”

This is the first phase of participation in and support for the Passport program for Esri. As needs from subscribers and members evolve, Esri will provide additional GIS courses to meet these demands.  To access the entire Esri catalog in Passport, follow this link –

About the author

Keith Cooke is the Director of Planning & Community Development Markets at Esri. A graduate of Auburn University, he has been a GIS professional since 1994 and has worked for planning and community development agencies at the regional and municipal level. Prior to this role, he was an account executive at Esri for 15 years working with over 100 local governments. He is a frequent speaker at GIS, community planning, and economic development events and is an active member in the American Planning Association, where he has conducted nearly 100 hands-on GIS workshops for planners since 2004 at the National Planning Conference and state chapter conferences.


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