Tools for Community Design and Decision-making
Since the fall of 1998, the US Departmentof Energy has organized fournational meetings on Tools for Community Design and Decision Making (TCDDM). The TCDDM meetings brought together community practitioners working in land use planning and community development; tool providers offering a wide spectrum of visualization, impact analysis, predictive modelling, and collaborative decision making tools; and foundations and public agencies working to advance more effective planning tools and process techniques. In general, TCDDM participants are interested in helping communities make better decisions about land use, resource use, community development and community design. More broadly, they want to help communities become more livable and more environmentally and economically sustainable. To achieve this, TCDDM organizers believe that much of the solution relies upon the successful integration of technical tools for land and resource management and other community development objectives, with process techniques for civic participation, stakeholder involvement and consensus building. Together these elements form what might be referred to as a Planning Support System (PSS) for communities. Over the course of the last three years, TCDDM participants have identified strategies to improve decision support tools, and explored ways to make the use of these tools and process techniques more mainstream. This chapter highlights key outcomes of these meetings, including TCDDM core values, key principles of effective planning support systems, and an overview of many of the tools presented at these meetings. The tools overview considers how various tools support these principles. A more thorough analysis of the opportunities and constraints represented by these tools would be a valuable next step in helping communities better assess which are the best tools for meeting their specific needs.
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