Opening access to scenario planning tools

Can open source tools and approaches change how we do scenario planning? The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute today launched a new report, Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools.

The report emerges from a series of workshops and conversations convened by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute in 2010 and 2011. Participants included professional and citizen planners who practice scenario planning, academics researching scenario planning, and experts who develop tools to support scenario planning. OpenPlans has been engaged in those conversations and is  proud to be part of the report writing team.

Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools examines the current state of scenario planning, the promise of scenario planning tools to help us prepare for the future, the challenges to expanding their use, and their potential to open access to the planning process. It makes specific recommendations to advance the use of scenarios and scenario planning tools, including development of an online platform to facilitate collaboration, capacity building, and open source activities among scenario tool developers, urban planners, and other tools users.

What is scenario planning? To ensure community support for decisions about development and other land-related policies — and public investments — broader and more effective civic engagement is needed. Scenario planning uses inputs such as density, mixed-use development, and transportation nodes, together with population estimates, to predict and visualize different outcomes.

To accompany the report, the Lincoln Institute created a website to host the current and future conversations around scenario planning, Over time, the site will include links to resources and a gathering point for future collaborations.

So how do we increase access to scenario planning tools?

The report recommends the following actions – get involved in bringing these to reality!

•   Creating an online platform to foster collaboration in the development and application of scenario planning tools.

•   Developing a curriculum on scenario planning for the next generation of professional and citizen planners.

•   Establishing a model process for conducting scenario planning and show how it can be used with existing community planning processes.

•   Illustrating different uses of scenario planning tools in various stages of the planning process to facilitate increased use of scenario planning.

•   Establishing data standards to improve information sharing, starting with development and place types for land use patterns.

•   Creating a model collaborative project to demonstrate the potential for integrated tools, models, and modules.

•   Advancing new concepts of anticipatory governance by using foresight and anticipation to address uncertainty and future challenges.

The other team members include  leaders in the burgeoning field of visioning and visualization and public participation:






The Scenario Planning Tools team will be at the 2012 APA Conference in Los Angeles, April 14-17, 2012.  Meetup with them on Saturday, April 14 5:30-7pm.  More event info can be found here.