The Planners Guide to CommunityViz

Opening the door to all types of community planning using GIS-supported, 3-D software

The Planners Guide to CommunityVizWith the increase in communities using geographic information system-based software to visualize future growth and development in realistic, three-dimensional images, the need has arisen for a book about how such software can be used to improve and expand planning at the local and regional levels. The Planners Guide to CommunityViz answers this call, providing a detailed look at the most comprehensive and throughly test of these GIS-supported programs.

The book is written by two of the most knowledgeable and respected authors in this field, Doug Walker, president and principal of Placeways, LLC, and Tom Daniels of the University of Pennsylvania. Their work provides the first detailed study and insightful analysis of CommunityViz and the advanced software's many applications.

CommunityViz was developed by the Orton Foundation and released in 2001. The software offers a wide array of tools for visualizing, analyzing, and communicating about planning alternatives and their proposed outcomes.

The Planners Guide to CommunityViz is not only for planners, design professionals, architects, natural resource managers, and developers, but also community activists, educators, students, and all others interested in the use of decision-support software to help with producing plans and the planning process.

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Meet the Authors

Doug Walker is president and principal of Placeways, LLC, and is recognized nationally for his work as a developer of and practitioner with decision-support and visualization software programs. He has more than 25 years of experience including having been a senior executive for two major U.S. technology corporations. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in physics from Carleton College and a masters of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois.

Doug Walker

Tom Daniels is a professor and associate chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written or co-authored five other books about environmental, small town and rural planning. He has a doctorate in agricultural and resource economics from Oregon State University.

Tom Daniels

A Q&A with Doug Walker and Tom Daniels

Briefly, what is your book is about? What are its benefits to readers?
"Advances in computer technology and software are creating an exciting new generation of planning practice [and] helping drive this transformation is CommunityViz. Our book is the first to explain how to support planning projects with CommunityViz. It is full of practical examples and case studies. There are also chapters on everyday planning applications such as analyzing zoning regulations, cost of community services, and development proposals requiring design review."

Is there a particular segment of the planning profession or any nonplanning professional groups that might be especially interested in your book?
"It will appeal to any reader participating in planning projects that are supported, or could be supported, by CommunityViz. Readers do not need to be hands-on CommunityViz users to benefit from the book's insights on how to make best use of the tool, yet the book also contains valuable guidance for CommunityViz analysts."

Are there any non-planning professional groups that might be interested in the book?
"Besides professional planners, the book is designed to speak to planning students and educators; members of the public who want to engage more actively in their community's planning process; developers, architects, and landscape architects; natural resource management professionals; and GIS professionals."

Does the book have potential for classroom use, and if so, what type of classes?
"It has ample classroom potential, particularly for graduate planning courses on GIS and visualization. There is no other textbook on CommunityViz, and the range of planning applications that CommunityViz offers. The book [also] could be used in an  upper-level undergraduate GIS course, and graduate courses in geography, GIS, and environmental studies."

What would convince people to buy your book?
"If someone is interested in promoting public engagement and innovative planning processes and philosphies, this book should capture their attention. There's also the book's eye-catching color illustrations and practical applications of CommunityViz, which address real planning problems."