Introduction to UrbanFootprint, a next-generation scenario planning tool.
Though the concept of scenario planning has been in use for some two decades in the field of urban and regional planning, it is now becoming part of the professionally-accepted mainstream of the planning profession. With the passage of laws such as SB 375 in California, SB 1059 (as well as other related legislation) in Oregon, and similar legislation in other states, regions must now consider how to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by planning for land use development patterns that will lessen the need for automobile travel, among other GHG-reduction strategies. Scenario planning tools allow regions to compare different urban growth alternatives, to evaluate their performance for a range of metrics, including but not limited to GHG emissions.
So, what sorts of advancements have been made in the development of UrbanFootprint to differentiate it from previous-generation scenario planning tools?
Fully open-source software stack.
UrbanFootprint is a powerful scenario land use planning, modeling and data organization framework designed to facilitate more informed planning by practitioners, public agencies, and other stakeholders. Its development is led by Calthorpe Associates, a planning and urban design firm with over two decades of experience with regional and urban scenario planning. Built on fully open-source software platforms and tools, UrbanFootprint requires no proprietary software of any kind. It runs on the Ubuntu Linux 64-bit operating system; Postgresql drives the database back-end; this allows for PostGIS to provide GIS functionality; and for Postman to provide multi-user simultaneous editing capabilities. Queries and model logic use a combination of PGSQL and Python; Django, Apache, and Spoutcore interact with Redis Queue and Celery to allow for a web-driven, platform-agnostic user interface that is able to schedule complex server-side tasks and report the results back seamlessly. The map interface is service by Polymaps and Mapnik, interacting with Tilestache; charting is provided by d3. There are essentially no limitations to the amount of hardware that can be deployed on behalf of UrbanFootprint, from a desktop virtual-machine environment to the largest super-computing arrays. This flexibility allows it to be scalable, from analysis of a single development to an entire state, and beyond. Continue reading