GeoDesign to Usher in New Era for Community Consultation

June 21, 2011 -- The merging of design and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology would revolutionise urban planning and truly open up community development to the public, Esri Australia Western Australian Business Manager Tom Gardner told the Western Australian Surveying and Spatial Information Conference in Perth today.

Delegates from government, mining, engineering and cartography organisations attended the conference to discuss opportunities for GIS technology within the urban development and resources sector.

Mr Gardner said the concept of GeoDesign – that is design within a geographical context – would help rewrite the book on community involvement in urban planning decisions.

“GeoDesign, underpinned by GIS technology, merges the creation of design proposals with simulations that show the impacts potential designs will have on communities, using location as a common element,” Mr Gardner said.

"GeoDesign can be used throughout a project’s various stages, but the good news for the community is that it can help foster greater participation and inclusivity in the public consultation phase.”

Mr Gardner said GeoDesign transformed traditional methods of stakeholder consultation from a linear process into an interactive one.

“When designs are traditionally released for public consultation, plans are usually displayed somewhere for the community to view, perhaps with a model or diagram of the design and some analysis in the forms of graphs or tables,” Mr Gardner said.

“While it’s a common practice, it lacks context and is unlikely to provide a clear view of the effects the development may have on wider aspects of the community.

“However, using GIS GeoDesign tools, we can play out multiple planning scenarios and immediately see the ramifications for areas of community importance such as employment opportunities, environment impact and public access to infrastructure.”

Mr Gardner used the example of the creation of new development in a community setting.

“Essentially, GeoDesign combines designs and sketches with information and projections, such as population or pollution emissions, and places them in a digital geographical format,” Mr Gardner said.

“So we can position the new development on a digital map and immediately see how the design affects the data and forecasts.

“Communities are presented with a visual representation of the impact the development would have on population levels, job opportunities, waste production and a multitude of other aspects.

“Each of these forecasts is layered and can be manipulated by users so they only view the information they need.”

Mr Gardner, who has experience in urban planning and development on top of 13 years’ experience in the spatial industry, was speaking at the conference on behalf of location intelligence specialists Esri Australia.

The conference was held at the Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth on June 20 and 21.

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