Web-Based Planning: A Survey of Local Government Planning Websites

Gerrit Knaap and Elisabeth Holler (2003)

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The worldwide web has provided the planning community with numerous opportunities to reach new audiences, analyze data, and publicize events. Planning departments across the country have placed zoning maps, comprehensive plans, and meeting schedules, among other things, on their websites. Plans that were once kept in the planning office, and only available to those who could personally stop in to see them, are now available online at any time. When combined with opportunities to view community access television broadcasts and communicate with the planning department by email, there have been significant improvements in communication with the public over the last ten years. In addition, advances in computer technologies, such as GIS mapping, have allowed planners to conduct more sophisticated analyses and better understand trends in their communities.

This issue of the PAS Memo provides the results of a comprehensive survey of local planning websites in more than 200 communities. It differs from previous studies for two reasons: first, it focuses specifically on local government; second, it identifies whether or not specific website features (such as mapping) are available. The results create a description of how planners are currently using the web. Based on the results of this study, specific examples of the current state-of-the-art show what can be achieved in a planning website.