How GIS Can Inform Design Decisions

Alison Bramlet of the University of Georgia discusses the Greenprints Project, a park, trail, and open space master plan for Woodstock, Georgia.

Jan 6th, 2012

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00:01Hi. My name is Alison Bramlet and I am an assistant professor at the University of Georgia…

00:06…teaching in the College of Environment and Design, and I'm currently teaching GIS, digital graphics…

00:12…and design to landscape architecture and environmental planning students.

00:18Just a little bit about my background.

00:20I recently moved to Athens to teach at Georgia.

00:24I'd previously been in Atlanta for several years in private practice at a firm called Ecos Environmental Design.

00:32They're a multidisciplinary landscape architecture and planning firm.

00:36And I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects there, and one of the projects that I worked on there…

00:43…is the one I'd like to talk to you all today, which is the Greenprints project, for Woodstock, Georgia.

00:48So, just to provide a little context.

00:52Woodstock is in Georgia, it's in the northwest area of Georgia.

00:58We have Atlanta here, so we're about 50 miles north of Atlanta.

01:03So it's a small town, one of the typical, outside of the perimeter, small, nice quaint town. It has some great…

01:10…resources though in terms of its proximity to Lake Allatoona as well as a lot of Army Corps of Engineer lands…

01:19…around there, so there's some great opportunities.

01:23So this project was initiated in 2007 by Woodstock City Council and the Planning and Economic Development department.

01:33And the idea is to have a comprehensive park, trail, and open space master plan for the city.

01:39The plan should establish a framework and foundation for creation of this citywide green infrastructure…

01:45…as well as outlining the necessary strategies to preserve that and to implement the plan as well as to maintain…

01:52…also providing design guidelines for trails and a variety of things.

01:57So right here you actually see the Greenprints plan, which I will get into in detail in just a few minutes.

02:05To go through the planning process, this was a nine-month community and resource-based planning process.

02:13We have a process diagram here, although we all know that most processes are not linear…

02:20…but this does illustrate somewhat from the beginning to the end.

02:25We started out with an initial assessment; we determined benefits and trends, analyzed existing resources…

02:31…did a park gap analysis, looking at natural cultural features.

02:36We also established vision and goals of the community, as well as even in the inventory aspect.

02:42We're still getting that community feedback.

02:45Every portion of this diagram feedback happens with community on a variety of levels.

02:50There's a variety of facilitation levels, including a steering committee, community meetings…

03:01So, it was that, it was that really was resource and community throughout the whole process.

03:08So we determined needs and priorities and then developed that Greenprints plan.

03:13And finally, our implementation steps.

03:16What I'd like to really focus on today is this aspect of the project.

03:23I think that's the most applicable for what I would like to talk about.

03:27So, the presentation is how was GIS used to inform design decisions.

03:34And, this graphic over here, I actually submitted a work sample in 2009 for the Esri International User…

03:41…Group Conference and to be hopefully incorporated into a presentation.

03:46And the next year I got my ArcUser magazine, it was there, entitled "Geodesigning a Better Future."

03:56I was like, wow.

03:57So, that's great!

03:59So, I thought that it would be, this actually is the reason that I wanted to do this Lightning Talk, because…

04:05…I wanted to show how this was actually really was a geodesigning process that we went through with this planning aspect.

04:12And so I wanted to provide a little more information, explain how we got to this end product.

04:19So again, we established our vision, goals, and criteria for the project.

04:24They were determined through the Greenprints committee, community meetings, as well as that community survey.

04:30So our vision for the project was a sustainable, green space and trail network that defines…

04:36…and enhances the City of Woodstock's community, natural, and economic resources for all generations.

04:42With that vision, we determined there were four goals that we needed to meet…

04:46…again, through feedback from the community and steering committee.

04:51And I'll go through these goals in a minute, as well as criteria.

04:54So, what do we need to consider in order to meet this goal?

04:58How are we going to quantify that information and prioritize that?

05:01So, we, with this process, we used TPL's green printing model as a way to, as a good route to go…

05:11…with starting to quantify the criteria for these goals, and we created goal maps.

05:17So we had four different goal maps.

05:18The first goal was to improve air and water quality.

05:22So, this is a abbreviated model version, ModelBuilder, but it gets the idea across.

05:29We considered floodplain, tree cover, steep slopes, all of this information.

05:34If that's what we want to do, is improve air and water quality, these are the things we need to consider.

05:40Our second goal was to create places for a diversity of users to enhance community health.

05:46There's different considerations here.

05:48Although some of them are the same, there's some definite different things in terms of…

05:53…we incorporated data from the park gap analysis.

05:55We also, we had steering committee feedback, that feedback from individuals.

06:00What are places that are important to you?

06:04How can this enhance our community?

06:07Our third goal was to provide connectivity for people and wildlife.

06:12Again, a lot of these resource-based things were taken into account, but also things that you may not always…

06:19…have access to or think about when trying to provide connectivity in terms of, you know…

06:25…underdeveloped city and county and lands.

06:27Or starting to look at even utility corridors, where do those run along, is that connecting us to a school?

06:34We start to see these things once we've got these maps.

06:38And finally, protect natural and cultural resources.

06:41So, we have our, we mapped up a historic, archaeological sites, undeveloped lands, and a variety of other things as well.

06:50So, after we have these four goal maps, what we did is created a composite conservation priorities map.

06:59It takes these goal maps, similar to what was discussed earlier, taking these goal maps that were created…

07:05…and wedding them all together to create this composite conservation priorities map.

07:10And this map ends up becoming the basis for our design, at the design charrette.

07:18So if you see here, this is a steering committee member, and he has the composite conservation priorities…

07:26…map as a base, and he's designing right here, on that base.

07:31And what is key about this is that, he's actually using an informed base rather than just…

07:36…designing on an area with maybe some information about roads and whatnot.

07:41That information is weighted and prioritized and they understand in terms of what, where are the areas…

07:48…that we should consider for certain things?

07:50And so we came out with two alternatives for this, and they actually ended up pretty similar.

07:55Because, I think it was because the base was so informed that they, these decisions kind of came out…

08:01…in terms of what should we do.

08:05So here's the, again, the composite map, and then this was the plan that came from that.

08:11So, after the charrette, we incorporated those alternatives, went again back to the community…

08:17…back to the stakeholders, got more feedback, made modifications, and finally we come up with the Greenprints plan.

08:24This plan identifies a variety of green spaces in terms of neighborhood green spaces, community green spaces…

08:32…as well as a hierarchy of trails.

08:34Multiuse trails versus mountain biking trails, and so it really provides this connection for the city…

08:44…through these green spaces that couldn't be possible without having a base like that to design from.

08:50So, every plan needs implementation as well, because then we're not going to get it done.

08:56So, the Greenprints plan was adopted as part of the comprehensive town plan in 2008.

09:03And, this is the cover of the planning document, and part of our deliverable to the city was an actual…

09:11…planning document that we did not want to sit on the shelf.

09:15It looks like this.

09:16It's very graphic, it is easy to just grab up and pull out maps.

09:22They're prioritized; they've got all the information in there.

09:25So it's something that's very easy to use and has actually been very effective to help them get things done.

09:33So, once the plan had been approved, the Greenprints Alliance was formed, which was a citizen action group…

09:42…advocating for the plan, fund raising, and they're using this book as a guide book.

09:48So, this is what's been done so far.

09:50We have, since 2008, there's been three items that were identified in the plan that have actually…

09:56…they're on the ground, and they're complete.

09:58We've got a pedestrian bridge, half a mile of one of our multiuse trails, and six miles of mountain biking trails.

10:07But the projects that are in progress, there's seven different projects in progress.

10:10Some of them will even be on the ground in six months.

10:15Some of them a little later, but it's so great in terms to be able to see that planning process start from the…

10:21…very beginning, have this informed design, have this community see it throughout.

10:27So, there is community buy-in because it's a transparent process.

10:30They feel like their feedback's been incorporated.

10:33And then you actually see that it did something and it didn't just sit on the shelf.

10:38So in the future, I think this project was successful, but I think that in terms of geodesign…

10:44…and how a process similar to this could be done differently.

10:50I mean, I've seen some amazing things here in the past day and a half, and I would love to be able to incorporate…

10:55…some of the more real-time aspect of it and that more seamless integration of being able to provide…

11:01…that scenario on the fly, rather than having to go back to the office and digitizing and do things like that…

11:08…but, you know, I think it's going to come in the future.

11:10So with that, I'd like to give a special thanks to the City of Woodstock as well as Ecos Environmental Design.

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