Planning Tools

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This section provides information on some of the planning resources - data sources, maps, computer tools and software - that can help communities plan smart growth projects more effectively and evaluate various planning alternatives. Reliable information is a critical input to all aspects of the planning process. And many software packages are equipped to process that information and return meaningful answers to a whole host of planning questions.

Data Sources, Including Spatial Data and Maps
Planning can only be as good as the information it's based on. Trying to anticipate and plan for the future is pointless without an accurate characterization of the present and an assessment of the past trends that led to the current state of affairs. Even trying to address the needs of today requires quantifying exactly what those need are. Information is thus the foundation on which good planning is built. Here are links to some useful data sources.

Computer Tools & Software
Land use planning is an inherently complex practice, involving spatial analysis and the interaction of a wide variety of variables, both natural and man-made. Land-use professionals from every field and at every level -- from urban planners to commercial developers to transportation system engineers -- are increasingly turning to computer technology to model complex urban systems and to visualize alternative development scenarios, exercises that used to be prohibitively time-consuming. Here are innovative methods, computer software applications, and resources for interpreting land use data and evaluating planning alternatives.