From Boy Reporter Ron Nurwisah:
Remember Sim City, the wildly popular game that let you be your own Robert Moses (or Jane Jacobs), constructing cities, mapping out highways, waterworks, public transit and other amenities?
The gamers were onto something. An article in the Boston Globe (registration required, or use this site to get around it) looks at how a few cities in the US are using software like Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to involve the public in planning decisions that would’ve been cost-prohibitive and time consuming just a few years ago. The software lets citizens see how certain policy decisions would affect their neighbourhoods and allows them to make well thought out and developed recommendations to their municipal governments.
Chicago, Honolulu and now Boston are some of the cities that have let their citizens play with the software. The end result is hopefully a more transparent and democratic planning process that can more effectively address often ignored problems like affordable housing, and the needs of lower-income neighbourhoods.