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Technology of the Blueprint

Workshop Participants Can See Future Today with I-PLACE3S Software

It looks like a computer game, but the stakes are much higher. Blueprint workshops give residents the chance to become planners through a thought-provoking software program called I-PLACE3S. The software speeds up the calendar by 50 years to show almost immediately how decisions made today will affect the region tomorrow.

Any planning decision can have good or bad ramifications. Transportation affects housing, for example, and one city's decision to expand or limit development can have a significant impact on surrounding communities. I-PLACE3S immediately shows the effects of those choices so participants at the workshops better understand that what they do locally will affect the entire region.

I-PLACE3S enables users to apply a variety of land use designations to potential development areas. Each designation carries with it characteristics such as the number of dwellings per acre, how many employees commercial areas can handle, and even the number of parking spaces the land will support.

As land use designations expand or change, I-PLACE3S shows the effects. Will traffic congestion increase or will new work centers reduce the stress on roads? Will agricultural land or open space be lost, or can it be preserved while meeting housing needs? Will replacing commercial areas with new "mixed-use" development in which commercial and residential share space lead to a more vibrant and efficient community, or will it have negative economic impacts on other areas?

I-PLACE3S enables users to create and evaluate multiple development scenarios against a set of base case conditions. It demonstrates how planning and design choices, made by a community, have impacts on development patterns, modal choices, redevelopment potential, and livability to name a few. By being aware of the consequences of different development choices, citizens can improve their economies, environments, and quality of life. Members of the public who attend the public workshops helped decide whether the community they are building is what they would like to see the region become — not just for themselves, but for their children, grandchildren and the hundreds of thousands of newcomers to the region.

For a technical demonstration on how to use I-PLACE3S, visit the online tutorial, or view a demo using WebEx (this link will initiate the installation of WebEx in your browser, which is necessary in order to view the demo).