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Winners of OPTG Innovation Awards Announced!

The OPTG is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural Innovation Awards. Awards were presented in two categories. The Innovative Tool Award highlights a tool that has made a significant contribution to the open planning tools landscape. The second award for 2014 is the Exemplary Implementation Award, which recognizes a planning process or project that utilized planning tools in an innovative manner to create effective public engagement or improved analysis supporting the resolution of a significant challenge.

This year’s winners are:

Innovative Tool Award
Forest Planner | Ecotrust

Ecotrust’s Forest Planner brings free decision support tools to Oregon and Washington’s forest owners. Using Forest Planner, forest managers can map properties, prepare forest management scenarios, and evaluate the results based on key indicators of forest production and health. The innovative use of open-source software to bring improved analytics and scenario planning to forest land managers for free is a perfect example of the Open Planning Tool Group’s goals in action.

Key Innovations:

  • Connecting science to decision-making: Forest owners and managers can evaluate the effects of management strategies using a system developed in collaboration with Oregon State University Extension foresters.
  • Broadening Access: Previously, analytics of this type were available only through the use of expensive and complicated software. Forest Planner’s web-based interface makes complex data accessible to land owners and other decision-makers. Using open source software further opens up the access to this tool to new audiences.
  • Innovative Analysis: Forest Planner brings together years of forest and conservation modeling with tool development in the open source Madrona framework.

Forest Planner is scheduled for rollout on March 22nd at the Clackamas Tree School, an annual event of the Oregon State University Extension. Learn more about the tool at: http://forestplanner.ecotrust.org/

 

Exemplary Implementation Award
Massachusetts Priority Mapping Protocol | Metropolitan Area Planning Council

The Priority Mapping Protocol creates a framework for using civic engagement and data-driven technology to identify priority areas for housing and economic development in Massachusetts. It exemplifies the Open Planning Tool Group’s linked goals of advancing the use of open access and open source tools to improve planning decisions through engagement with the public, providing improved analytics and information to decision makers, and supporting the use of scenario planning practices in policy development.
Key Innovations:

  • Linking Data and Civic Engagement: In the two projects where it has been used, 80 public meetings allowed participants learn about the complex factors that shape their community, and more importantly to share information with and learn from each other.. The innovative use of geospatial tools like Community Viz allowed technical staff to gather public feedback that provides significantly more precise, and thus useful, guidance for future policy decisions.
  • Multi-Agency Collaboration: The Priority Mapping Protocol was implemented in collaboration with the State’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the South East Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), and MAPC. Collaboration between MAPC and SRPEDD involved a considerable amount of learning across the two agencies and helped to build the capacity of SRPEDD to implement more advanced scenario planning tools in the future.
  • Availability and Scaling: The tools developed to support this protocol are available to any region in the State of Massachusetts and include a library of supporting data and guidance for the inclusion of locally sourced information.

In addition to recognition for their achievements, the award recipients will receive a cash prize of $500. Congratulations to both of the winners! We’ll be rolling out more info about each tool and process in the coming weeks.

Cross-posted on ScenarioPlanningTools.org