Tag Archives: geodesign

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire and Esri Host Exhibit

The Ai Esri Connection is a joint exhibit between The Art Institute of California—Inland Empire and Esri. It celebrates the unique relationship that has developed over the years between the two organizations. Together, they have focused on cultivating student success and educating them on career opportunities that are available, particularly in the fields of GIS, technology, and design.

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Why Hasn’t My GIS Manager Showed Me This?

I had the pleasure of being part of the team representing Esri at the American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Conference in Phoenix, AZ (see a picture of the Phoenix Convention Center below). I really feel at home among planners, as I have a Masters degree in Urban & Regional Planning, attained the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification, spent part of my career as a Planner, as well as worked with planners as a GIS practitioner.

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Resilience: Building Smarter, Not Stronger

In Al Gore’s latest book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, he points out that it took nearly all of human history–some 200,000 years–to create the first billion people. It took only 12 years to create the last billion. We currently welcome about 1.5 million people to the planet every week, mostly in developing countries.

For the first time in recorded history, more than 50% of humanity now lives in cities. By 2050, some 80% will live in cities. Urbanization is already having a profound impact on our lives, yet we have little understanding of the unintended consequences.

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Denver Growing Smart with Spatial Technology

I’m here in Denver, Colorado for the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference (2/13-15/2014), a perfect location for an event that illustrates the importance of triple bottom line planning that addresses the environment, the economy, and the social sphere of culture, justice, and equity.

For more than ten years, Denver has been adding light rail and commuter rail to their transportation infrastructure to help reduce traffic and improve accessibility. In the last six years or so, a lot of work has been done to revitalize historic parts of downtown to increase its vibrancy and livability.  New shops and trendy restaurants have moved in; planters, trees, and artwork dot the streets; and in the summer, colorfully-painted upright pianos are randomly placed along the walking mall on 16th Street, with free bus rapid transit attracting the young and old to explore and maybe play a tune. Continue reading

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The Geodesign-Biomimicry Connection

Jack Dangermond studied under Ian McHarg and Carl Steinitz, the combination of which took the manual overlay method of designing with nature from paper to the digital world using computers in 1969. His hope was that GIS would become a framework for modeling earth’s systems so they could be managed more sustainably. In 1995, Jack called GIS “the nervous system of the planet,” foreshadowing what I think GIS is on its way to becoming. Geodesign–an iterative design method that uses stakeholder input, geospatial modeling, impact simulations, and real-time feedback to facilitate holistic designs and smart decisions–is the natural evolution of that vision.

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Urban Planning and the DNA of the City

A city looks and feels the way it does because of human intention. Early civilizations built their settlements next to waterways, designing them to accommodate this resource accessibility and their own survival. During the beginning of the industrial revolution, cities were planned with ever-evolving rules ensuring that city streets were wide enough to accommodate the full turn of a horse and carriage. In this way, the values of the people were encoded into the very DNA of the city.

A complex built environment can be reduced to three basic elements: links along which travel can occur, nodes representing the intersections where two or more paths cross and public spaces form, and buildings where most human activities take place. The functionalities of place are all defined by rules and procedures, which make up the core design vocabulary of a place.  Procedural design techniques automatically generate urban designs through predefined rules which you can change as much as needed, providing room for limitless new design possibilities. Continue reading

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Geodesign for a Sustainable Europe

With the rush to urbanize, how can historic landscapes and archaeological features be preserved to maintain a sense of place? How does society plan for an ever-increasing population while maintaining open space, rural character, and economic vitality? How do communities take full advantage of improvements in technology to design or retrofit spaces and create smart, sustainable cities of the future?

These are some of the questions that will be examined at Geodesign Summit Europe, which will be held in September on an ancient fortress island in the Netherlands.

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Bridging the Gap Between Scientists and Policy Makers: Whither Geospatial?

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

Thus spoke President Barack Obama in his 2nd inaugural address, to the delight of many, if not most in the scientific community. Indeed, there are many societal problems across the world that increasingly revolve around science. These include pollution and waste management, pandemics and biosecurity, access to clean air and clean drinking water, response to and recovery from natural disasters, choices among energy resources (oil and gas versus nuclear versus “alternative”), and the loss of open space in urban areas, as well as biodiversity in rural areas. And yet, there is a tension between the world of science, which is focused on discovery, and the world of policy making, which is focused on decisions.

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A 250-Year Plan for the Planet

Four years ago, designer and technologist Bran Ferren issued a challenge during the first Geodesign Summit: Become better storytellers using geodesign.

Ferren, the chief creative officer of Applied Minds LLC, returned to Esri in January to keynote at the fourth Geodesign Summit and reiterate his first call to action and deliver another: Develop a 250-year plan for the planet enabled by geodesign to create a vision of the future.

“Geodesign combines geography and data with modeling, simulation, and visualization to tell stories and (show) the consequences of your actions,” Ferren told more than 260 architects, urban and transportation planners, GIS and design professionals, educators, and others at the most well-attended Geodesign Summit to date. He sees great potential for geodesign to ultimately help find solutions to complex problems. “It is still in the shiny object stage but it will be very important,” he said.

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Geodesign Pioneer Honored

Dr. Stephen Ervin is as vibrant as his day of birth—Mardi Gras. Like the celebratory day itself, Ervin is animated, larger than life, and full of contagious energy. He has spent two decades working at Harvard University teaching courses, speaking at conferences, and authoring books about his passion—the intersection of computing, design, and science. “Geodesign has taken over my life,” Ervin chuckles.

The Assistant Dean for Information Technology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Director of Computer Resources, and lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Ervin still somehow manages to find time to evangelize and promote the principles of geodesign in various ways around the world.

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