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GIS in Urban Planning

  • By: Richard P. Greene
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Urban planning is greatly enhanced by the use of modern technology such as geographic information systems (GIS), which are uniquely suited to capture the many spatial layers and dimensions of the contemporary city and provide analytical tools to model its growth and change. Cities, counties, regional planning agencies, and other planning units frequently undertake what-if analysis and problem solving with GIS. GIS are a helpful tool for urban planners because it not only goes beyond just forecasting the magnitude of a problem but also visually displays the spatial distribution of the phenomena being examined.

GIS has been especially popular for smart growth initiatives, sometimes called new urbanism or neo-traditional planning, which encourage compact development with mixed uses, redevelopment of infill areas, pedestrian-friendly walkways, public transportation, open ...

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