The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


CASA Working Paper 122


1 September 2007

Planning Support Systems: Progress, Predictions, and Speculations on the Shape of Things to Come

In this paper, we review the brief history of planning support systems, sketching the way both the fields of planning and the software that supports and informs various planning tasks have fragmented and diversified. This is due to many forces which range from changing conceptions of what planning is for and who should be involved, to the rapid dissemination of computers and their software, set against the general quest to build ever more generalized software products applicable to as many activities as possible.

We identify two main drivers - the move to visualization which dominates our very interaction with the computer and the move to disseminate and share software data and ideas across the web. We attempt a brief and somewhat unsatisfactory classification of tools for PSS in terms of the planning process and the software that has evolved, but this does serve to point up the state-ofthe- art and to focus our attention on the near and medium term future. We illustrate many of these issues with three exemplars: first a land usetransportation model (LUTM) as part of a concern for climate change, second a visualization of cities in their third dimension which is driving an interest in what places look like and in London, a concern for high buildings, and finally various web-based services we are developing to share spatial data which in turn suggests ways in which stakeholders can begin to define urban issues collaboratively. All these are elements in the larger scheme of things - in the development of online collaboratories for planning support. Our review far from comprehensive and our examples are simply indicative, not definitive. We conclude with some brief suggestions for the future.

This working paper is available as a PDF. The file size is 1372KB.

Authors: Michael Batty

Publication Date: 1/9/2007

Download working paper No. 122.