Silicon Collar looks at machines and humans at work in over 50 settings across industries and countries. On this blog I will excerpt many of those settings over the next few weeks. On Deal Architect I will excerpt more of the policy parts of the book.
Dr. Russell Fricano teaches urban planning at Minnesota State University (Mankato). Before his teaching career, he had spent two decades as a regional planner in car-dependent Los Angeles County, and has a good perspective on how technology has changed the planner's job:
"When I began my planning career and we analyzed a site, we used Mylar sheets that had different layers of information. Some sheets showed topography, others displayed environmental areas, roads, and infrastructure. You put them all together on a light table, and you tried to figure out the various attributes of the property as a composite. Doing so would give you major headaches. Today, we have Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is a way of compiling in a digital format various features that you can map. It basically organizes a collection of digitized map-related information and it's capable of holding and using data describing places on the Earth's surface.”
“Technology is an integral part of the planning job today. If you take the certification exam of the American Planning Association, you are expected to be familiar with the latest technology.
And planning has gone global. You see digital smart signs on highways with accident and other traffic information. That was something we borrowed from Europe, but it's now very much part of our everyday life. It assists you when you drive, and smoothes out the traffic flow.”
As if all that change was not dramatic enough, urban planners increasingly have to keep up with citizens who use real-time traffic pattern information from navigation apps like Waze.