Five Ways Geodesign is Making the World a Better Place

Blog Post created by martz-esristaff Employee on Jul 14, 2015

As designers of the built environment, we are challenged by design problems, deriving creative concepts, realizing opportunities, and meeting the clients’ or stakeholders’ needs while achieving the optimum design. Geodesign enables planners, landscape architects, and urban designers to leverage comprehensive information about the world in order to create the best designs for any project at any scale.


Let’s take a look at five presentations from the 2014 Esri User Conference that illustrate how geodesign tools and techniques are already making a difference in the world around us.


Geodesigning Parks for People


Breece Robertson and Bob Heuer from the The Trust for Public Land (TPL) presented ParkScore, a comprehensive rating system designed to help local communities improve their park systems and identify where new parks are needed most.


“The ParkScore Index is an effort to analyze how well parks and public open spaces in the 60 largest cities in the US meet residents’ needs for outdoor recreation,” said the authors.


“TPL created a geodesign application called the ‘Park Evaluator,’ an online tool for city park planners and managers to create scenarios where new parks can be sited and ParkScore metrics can be updated. Alternative scenarios can be compared to make the best informed decisions about the city’s park system.”



Influencing Smarter Development through Geodesign


Economic growth and the environment are interdependent, and nowhere is that more evident than on Cape Cod. “The Cape Cod Commission developed a web-based multi-variant planning tool that evaluates economic and environmental impacts of development,” said Kristy Senatori, Paul Niedzwiecki, Bret Whiteley, and Anne Reynolds from the Cape Cod Commission in their presentation.


“This ArcGIS Server application built in Flex enables users to generate and manipulate development scenarios, calculate costs, tax revenue and benefits, and visualize impacts,” the authors added. “A user can modify scenarios making it easier for communities to put the right development in the right place.”



Evaluating Cumulative Impacts with Geodesign in SeaSketch


SeaSketch is a software service for the collaborative geodesign of marine spatial plans. “We developed functionality in SeaSketch for the visualization and analysis of global cumulative impact models for the ocean surface,” said Dan Yocum Will McClintock in their presentation.


“Using simple sketching tools, users may develop prospective marine spatial plans and evaluate how these plans may increase or decrease human impacts to ocean habitats,” Yocum and McClintock concluded.



Bioregional Urbanism: Connecting Scientific Metrics to Design


In their presentation, Philip Loheed, Ninian Stein, Sarah Howard, and Patricia Loheed discussed the concept of Bioregional Urbanism.
“Bioregional Urbanism is an emerging framework that helps communities apply natural resource budgets and GIS-driven suitability analysis to design projects at different scales,” said the authors, “enabling cities and regions to become measurably more resilient and self-sufficient. A team of designers, scientists, policy, and community practitioners at Earthos is developing and applying the frame in regions around the world.”

Their presentation introduced the research, theoretical frame, practice methods, and applications of Bioregional Urbanism.



Enterprise Geodesign: University-Community Sustainability Partnerships


In her presentation, Suzanne Withers from the University of Washington discussed “an Enterprise Geodesign University-Community Partnership between Geography, Landscape Architecture, Environmentaland Forest Sciences, and environmental community partners (ROSS, Bullitt, PSRC, Stewardship Watershed), each with sustainability mandates: economic, social, ecological, and institutional.”


Her presentation detailed "alignment of curriculum with partner projects, pathways to sustainable systems, the requisite technological capacity for success, and great potential of Geodesign.”


“The potential to realize sustainable systems through University Community partnerships implementing Enterprise Geodesign is promising,” Withers concludes.




Join the architects of the future. Learn more about how you can apply geodesign tools and principles to help make the world a better place.