Planners Confront the Virtual World at #MACoCon

County officials and planners learned how planning is increasingly dealing with a virtual world through geographic information system (GIS) anad other technologies at the “Land Use in Virtual World” panel on August 19.

Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission Prince George’s County Division Chief James Cannistra discussed the visualization of data through GIS. He discussed the requirements of maintaining a useful GIS system (particularly the underlying data layers). Cannistra mentioned Prince George’s GIS open data initiative, which makes data and analysis tools available for public use. He also briefly discussed the zoning and permitting issues raised by the sharing economy, such as ride sharing or AirBnB. He urged counties to gather data on the use of such services in their jurisdictions and the likelihood of having to modify permitting requirements. Finally, he stressed the large potential of using drones to gather visualization data.

2016 MACo Summer Conference - Planning Panel
(L to R) Anthony Puzzo, Jim Cannistra, and Delegate Steve Lafferty

ESRI State and Local Government Manager Anthony Puzzo discussed how GIS 3D visualization can support long range planning, project review, and citizen and decision maker communication. Puzzo showed a 3D version of Washington DC and demonstrated how applying different data overlarys can easily show development impacts. He also discussed the emerging use of holograms, augmented reality (the technology used in Pokémon Go) and virtual reality in planning.

Maryland Delegate Stephen Lafferty moderated the panel. Lafferty asked what other technologies the panel anticipated coming beyond current 3D visualization. Cannistra mentioned allowing information available on mobile devices. Anthony reiterated the potential of virtual reality and augmented reality.