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Canada develops high-tech urban planning system

Canada: Engineers and urban design experts at the University of Calgary are developing PlanYourPlace, Canada’s first interactive, web-based platform to simplify the urban planning process.

“We intend to develop a simple, interactive planning tool that can be used at regional levels all the way down to local neighbourhood levels,” said Dr. Andrew Hunter, project manager and geomatics engineering professor at the Schulich School of Engineering. “This is possible because of recent advancements in technology such as GIS and cyber infrastructure.”

The PlanYourPlace project involves software development to enable the visualisation of proposals and sketching of alternatives. The package will include geospatial components such as imaging and mapping along with algorithms to calculate the outcomes of various scenarios. The end result will be a planning tool that can be used anywhere.

“Our goal is to improve planning practices and promote interactive and participatory approaches that result in economic, environmental, social and cultural development that is sustainable,” explained project co-manager Dr. Bev Sandalack, research leader of the Faculty of Environmental Design Urban Lab at the University of Calgary.

While the system will be applicable anywhere, the researchers will focus on a specific area of Calgary in order to develop the various components. Their test bed is a collection of neighbourhoods that were constructed during the building boom of the 1950s through the 1970s. They form Calgary’s “middle ring” and are poised to undergo redevelopment.

PlanYourPlace has received funding of USD 225,000 per year for two years from Geomatics for Informed Decisions Network (GEOIDE), the Neptis Foundation, which provides funding for objective data collection and analysis on matters that affect the quality of life in urban regions and TECTERRA Inc., which invests in technology solutions in the areas of energy, forestry, agriculture, environment, and land management and development.

Source: University of Calgary