Community Visualization and Project-Based Learning in Urban Planning and Geographical Information Science

Project Title: Community Visualization and Project-Based Learning in Urban Planning and Geographical Information Science

Project Lead's Name: David Prytherch


Phone: (513) 529-9284

Please Choose the Primary Affiliation: CAS

Are There Other Project Team Members?: Yes

Other team member name: Robbyn Abbitt

Project Details: Purchase of CommunityViz software license and interactive projector hardware will enable students in urban planning and geography to better visualize different urban outcomes and collaborate with community-clients in making strategic decisions about the future of local cities and regions. The Department of Geography currently offers robust training in Geographic Information Science (GISci), and our teaching in GISci and Urban and Regional Planning increasingly engages students in applied and project-based learning. We have already emphasized expanded GISci and client/community-based learning in the renovation of Shideler Hall, featuring a new new project studio for applied research and community service. However, the introduction of CommunityViz software would extend and enhance capacity to teach the applications of GISci for envisioning urbanization scenarios and evaluating policy alternatives, both as a unit within existing GISci courses impacting a broad range of students, as well as a cutting-edge tool used for deepening training in our advanced GISci and planning courses. And installation of an interactive projector in our project studio would allow students, faculty, and community clients to better collaborate -- technologically and graphically -- in making strategic decisions. Together these would expand our capacities to train students in visualizing different community development scenarios, using the most advanced tools available for helping community decision-makers plan for the future.

Problem Project Attempts to Solve: The ability to collaborate with stakeholders to analyze present conditions and visualize future scenarios is central to urban planning, part of the exciting challenge of geovisualization more broadly. Our departmental strengths in GISci are traditionally more focused on natural resource management than urban planning, and lack the capacity to project alternative urban scenarios. Purchasing a site license for CommunityViz will introduce students to a commonly-used extension of ArcGIS, introducing a cuttingedge tool our GISci curriculum at multiple levels (broadly impacting 130 students per year), as well as deeply impacting the ability of students in advanced courses to collaborate with community clients (deeply impacting 40-60 students per year). Such software skills will greatly enhance student ability to compete on the marketplace for urban planners and GISci technicians. Furthermore, while budgets for Shideler Hall renovation provided for a GIS/planning studio, the lack of interactive projection hinders the ability of students to interact with community clients and each other. Installation of such hardware will go hand-in-hand with CommunityViz software in adding interactive geovisualization and collaboration technology, allowing this room to fulfill its intended purpose.

Does this project focus on graduate student education or graduate student life?: No

Does it meet tech fee criteria?: Geovisualization concepts and techniques are at the cutting edge of Geographic Information Sciences generally and urban planning specifically. In a complex and fastchanging world, students and decision-makers need tools for creatively visualizing analyzing complex geospatial data-sets, and projecting the possible outcomes of different policy decisions. This is particularly important within urban planning, where present-day decisions depend on the ability to forecast different urbanization outcomes. And there is no more effective way to learn those skills than through real-world projects involving community clients, learning through service to people as they confront key planning issues like growth management, economic development, and sustainability. Learning the skills for doing so collaboratively involves not only the right kind of software (like CommunityViz), but also the hardware that enables multiple people -- students, faculty, community members -- to communicate graphically (interactive projection). These techniques are at the forefront of participatory GISci and contemporary urban planning, and enable students to gain real-world experience collaborating with longstanding community partners (like the City of Oxford).

How will you assess the project?: Outcomes of this project and assessment techniques include the following. 1) Development of an incorporation of CommunityViz extension as module across the existing GISci curriculum. Learning outcomes will be developed to guide creation of a module and/or exercise introducing students to urban planning uses of GIS via CommunityViz. New modules will be deployed, and resulting exercises assessed. 2) Incorporation of CommunityViz as key planning technique in advanced, project-based courses (i.e. GEO 459 Advanced Urban and Regional Planning or IES 474 Sustainability in Practice). Again, learning outcomes for more in-depth use of CommunityViz will be developed, the technology incorporated into course design related to classroom learning (i.e. forecasting) and stakeholder engagement (i.e. setting goals and objectives, evaluating alternatives). 3) Incorporation of interactive projection into project-based studio learning. Small group instructional diagnosis and other forms of in-class observation will be used to evaluate effectiveness of incorporating both software and hardware into community-based projects. 4) Tracking of software and hardware usage trends by students and faculty.

Have you received tech fee funding in the past?: Yes

What results were achieved?: Tech Fee funding supported purchase of two computers to enable collaboration between the Department of Geography and the Physical Facilities Department using Geographical Information Systems. It established a now long-standing cooperative relationship, impacting multiple courses for which PFD has been a project client. Use of the technology impacted directly impacted dozens of students, and the newly collaborative relationship impacted scores more. I believe I submitted a final report, but cannot find record of it. So it's possible I neglected to provide a final report.

Did you submit a final report?: No

What happens to the project in year two?: Interactive projection hardware will be maintained and supported by the Department of Geography. Costs of maintaining the CommunityViz software license will be sustained by the Department of Geography subsequent to year two (ongoing costs of $1050 per year).

Software: CommunityViz 5.0 - Professional for ArcGIS 10.3 or 10.2 (vendor PlaceWays), $1,850

Hardware: Epson 595WI Interactive Projector Crestron, DM-RMC-200-C, C2G USB Extender (plus installation materials), $3,890

Contracts: Integration Service: Design & Engineering, Integration Labor, Project Management, CAD/Drafting Testing/System Optimization, $1,760

Total Budget: $7,500

Comments: web address of software vendor: Do no know Miami IT's preferred vendor for hardware