By David M. Simpson
Excerpt from the International City/County Management Association Municipal Yearbook (2005)
Redlands, CA – A partnership of organizations including the American Planning Association, Information Technology Division, the University of Louisville, Urban Insight, and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), has conducted a first-ever national survey regarding the use of Internet technologies in planning agencies of U.S. cities with a population of 25,000 or greater.
The findings of the research have been published in the International City/County Management Association 2005 Municipal Yearbook.
"The web has rapidly changed the world of business, but government has consistently lagged behind," says Chris Steins, CEO of Urban Insight. "In an effort to evaluate the use of Internet technology for government applications, this research examines the adoption of Internet technologies as the vehicle for local government practice, specifically within the field of urban planning."
The emergence of Internet technology has created tremendous opportunities for improving the role of good government, specifically in the form of increased information, interaction with the public, and more cost effective and efficient means of conducting public business transactions. The study surveyed and analyzed the content of local planning agencies websites, and adoption of various other technologies.
Through the development of this new methodological instrument and a systematic approach to analyzing the use of technology, the research has implications for a wide range of government activity that is conducted online.
The results are being used to "benchmark" the state of technology utilization in planning agencies in the U.S., something that has not yet been done. The information collected and the ensuing research will be invaluable in helping other practitioners and researchers gain a clearer understanding of the role and impact of the Web on planning practice.
The American Planning Association Information Technology Division connects planners who share an interest in the use of information technology (IT) to make great communities happen. The InfoTech Division develops IT sessions, workshops and special events for the annual APA National Conference.
David M. Simpson, PhD, AICP, director or the Masters of Urban Planning Program at the University of Louisville's School of Urban & Public Affairs, authored the article resulting from the research, and concludes:
Nevertheless, planning agencies are using Web technology and plan to implement additional Web elements in the next several years... In general, more research is needed to fully understand the uses of technological and Web-based applications in urban planning. Although most planning agencies are considering the adoption of more interactive applications, survey data show, again, that most activity is basically information oriented. It is unclear what forces, whether technological or other, will push agencies toward more interactivity."
Use of Web Technology by U.S. Planning Agencies: Results from a National Benchmarking Survey [PDF, 172KB]
Source: International City/County Management Association 2005 Municipal Yearbook