Thursday, January 24

Missoula's public planning data

As a Google Earth junkie and an armchair planning enthusiast, I was pleased to find that the city of Missoula offers some Google Earth overlays with transportation data - various borders and traffic counting stations. A separate overlay features some of the projects on the slate for the next few years.

For example, I found that the the traffic into my neighborhood, the lower Rattlesnake, has actually declined a little since 2004, after two decades of steady increases. I wonder if that is just a statistical blip in the data or if it points to a meaningful change. I know that development in the Rattlesnake has certainly not declined.

Imagine how free software like Google Earth could revolutionize the public involvement in land use and transportation planning. All of us could play the planner with a wiki-style interface, and local governments would have substantial insight into the wishes of their constituents. This is a good start.


jhwygirl said...

Google Earth is awesome. I have a mapping program - Arc View - that I use, downloading date from the Montana cadastral website, but Google Earth blows away anything that I can do with that.

I love how you can change the perspective. I've been able to move it around and find stuff that you can't see from the overhead picture.

Amazing. It really is a great tool.

When the open space purchase was made on the North Hills, Five Valleys Land Trust used google maps to show the land as it looked from the valley floor, really letting you see how that purchase impacted the valley. They had 'pictures' from miles away across the valley, and still the open space could be seen.

Daniel Nairn said...

That's another good use. These kinds of images can go a long way in helping people fit things together as a whole.