Initiatives

PlaceMatters creates cycles of continuous improvement in civic decision-making by linking research and practice, technology and public process, and local and global concerns. Our work helps communities make decisions that are more informed, inclusive and innovative.

Open Planning Tools Group

Since 2010, PlaceMatters has connected the innovators who fund, make, and use planning tools through the Open Planning Tools Group. With support from Lincoln Institute and Sonoran Institute, we convene an annual symposium where scenario planning tool experts connect the dots in their work to find new collaborative opportunities. Through this group, tools are becoming more open, accessible, and effective, leading to more informed decisions for the communities that use them.

Communicating Complex Information

Today we have access to the most information and data we’ve ever seen in the city-building professions. We’re also in the midst of unprecedented efforts to open up the institutions that make decisions regarding how cities are designed, built, and managed. These two currents present a new challenge: although more and more information and data is available to help us make decisions, it’s no longer enough for a select professional class to possess this knowledge. To this end, we use data visualization and other emerging technologies in our projects to develop new models for how practitioners can tell the stories that underlie complex data. Coupled with our expertise in civic engagement, these visualizations help communities explore the choices they face and make more informed, inclusive decisions.

Active Transportation

Since the 1950’s American cities have made many decisions around land use and transportation based on data related to cars, particularly congestion levels. As more and more communities respond to the groundswell of interest in biking and walking, they’re discovering a lack of tools and data needed to make more informed decisions around active transportation. PlaceMatters equips these communities by clarifying the complex decisions that make active transportation possible, pioneering techniques for civic engagement tailored to these issues, and providing tools to gather the data and community experiences that allow for informed decisions.

Connecting Planning with Water and Energy

Planning for sustainable urban development requires thinking about and understanding the natural systems that support our regions. Water and energy are particularly important in promoting environmental and community health, economic growth potential, climate change mitigation, and community vitality. PlaceMatters helps decision makers and community members understand these relationships so they can make more informed decisions about the places we live and work. We combine subject matter expertise, data analysis and communication, and collaborative public involvement in an effort to support the integration of water and energy resource management into community planning.

Long Term Capacity for Regional and Local Agencies

PlaceMatters builds capacity to make more informed decisions in planning and community development efforts. By providing technical assistance, peer networks, training, and through presentations and publications, PlaceMatters supports communities working to build internal capacity and plan for their future. Through our Capacity Building Initiative, PlaceMatters links communities to one another for peer learning, and provides direct assistance to public agencies and civic organizations on broadening and improving community engagement and integrating informed decision-making into planning and community development efforts.