Public Participation in Urban Design and Planning


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Public Participation in Urban Design and Planning

  1. 1. Nicholas Socrates 2009 Urban Design: Art, City, Society.Public ParticipationPublic participation is the involvement of people in the creation and management of their builtand natural enviroments.Its strength is that it cuts across tradition professional boundaries and cultures.The activity of community particiaption is based on the prinicple that the built and naturalenviromnets work better if citizens are active and involved in its creation and managementinstead of being treated as passive concumers.The main purposes of participation are;To involve citizens in planning and design decision making processes and, as a result, make itmore likely they will work within established systems when seeking solutions to problems.To provide citizens with a voice in planning and decision making in order to improve plans,decisions, service delivery, and overal quality of the enviroment.To promote a sense of community by bringing together people who share common goals.Participation should be active and directed, those who become involved should experience asense of achievement.Traditional planning procedures should be rexamined to ensure that participation achieves morethan a simple affirmation of the designers or planners intentions.The Importance of ParticipationThe planning system is meant to reflect the general wishes of the local community and there isa need on the local authority to consult widely during the formulation of a Local Plan and in theoperation of the development.The fact that the Council is made up of elected members ensures a certain level ofrepresentation, but wider public consultation is required.When a planning application is submitted the local authority publishes details in the localnewspaper and, in some circumstances, a notice is displayed adjacent to the site. In cases ofspecial sensitivity, individual households in an affected area might be asked for their opinions orthere may be a small public exhibition.However, in most cases, if members of the public wish to find out what is proposed they have tovisit the planning department, request the material that has been submitted and examine it onthe premises. They can then write to the planning committee if they have any objections.No matter what the scale of proposal, development control can be thought of as a process of
  2. 2. negotiation: at its simplest, between the applicant and the local authority, with only rudimentaryinvolvement by the public. In the most complex cases it involves a prolonged process of tradingoff between parties, and high-profile public debate.Not all of the local authoritys, or the publics interest in a proposal will be in its visual form: theywill also wish to consider its functional content; its impact on the environment (on traffic inparticular) and on the local economy.However, we are concerned here with the visual modelling of proposals, and the ways in whichthe traditional method of depositing plans and physical models is being replaced by digitalmethods which have the potential to be developed as interactive tools for use in the negotiationprocess.Characteristics of ParticipationAlthough any given participation process does not automatically ensure success, it can beclaimed that the process will minimize failure. Four essential characteristics of participation canbe identified;Participation is inherently good.It is a source of wisdom and information about local conditions, needs and attitudes, andtherefore improves the effectivenenss of decision making.It is a means of defending the interests of groups of people and of inderviduals, and a tool forstudying their needs, which are often ignored and dominated by large organizations, institutions,and their bureaucracies.With the goal of achieving agreement about what the future should bring.Determination of Goals and ObjectivesThe planning that accompanies the design of any participation program should first include adetermination of participation goals and objectives.Participation goals will differ from time to time and from issue to issue.Participation is likely to be percieved differently depending on the type of issue, people involvedand political setting in which it takes place.If differences in expectations and perception are not identified at the outset, and realistic goalsare not made clear, the expectations of those involved in the participation program will likely notbe met, and people will become disenchanted.To address participation effectively, the task should conceptualize what the objective is forinvolving citizens. For example, is the participation intended to;Generate ideas.Identify attitudes.Disseminate information.Resolve some identified conflict.Measure opinions.Review a proposal.Provide a forum to express general feelings.
  3. 3. Planning for ParticipationOnce planners have identified the overall goals and objectives for the participation process,planning for participation requires the following steps;Identify the inderviduals or groups that should be involved in the participation actively beingplanned.Decide where in the process the participants should be involved, from development toimplemenation to evaluation.Articulate the participation objectives in relation to all participants who will be involved.Identify and match alternative participation methods to objectives in terms of the resourcesavaliable.Select an appropriate method to be used to achieve specific objectives.Implement chosen participation activities.Evaluate the implemented methods to see to what extent they achieved the desired goals andobjectives.All Individuals and interest groups should come together in an open forum.In this setting, people can openly express their opinions, make necessary compromises, andarrive at decisions acceptable to all concerned. By involving as many interests as possible, theproduct is strengthened by the wealth of the input. In turn, learning more about itself strengthensthe citizens group.The Process is continuous and ever changingThe product is not the end of the process. It must be managed, re-evaluated, and adapted tochanging needs. Those most directly involved with the product; the users, are best to assumethose tasks.The professionals role is to facilitate the citizen groups ability to reach decisions through aneasily understood process. Most often this will take the form of making people aware of thealternatives. This role also includes helping people develop their resources in ways that willbenefit themselves and others.The Value of ParticipationInforming a large audience about proposals, generating interst, securing approval can take theform of a community meeting, also reffered to as a public hearing or a public forum. An informalmeeting, hearing, workshop, or other public gathering of people to obtain comments from thepublic or other agencies on a proposed project permit prior to the local governments decision.Public meetings allow community leaders to present project information at anytime during theprocess. The tight structure of such meetings does not, however, permit ample time fordiscussions. Although reffered to as community participation, only the most aggressivepersonalities tend to participate and often dominate the disscusion. Public reactions in publicmeetings are often taken by a vote through a show of hands. The key to making communitydesign work effectively is to incorporate a range of techniques for enabling proffessionals andcitizens to creatively collaborate, where voting is replaced by consensus decision making.
  4. 4. A wide range of techniques are avaliable to designers and planners. Some of these techniqueshave become standard for use in participatory processes, such as interactive group decision-making techniqes that take place in workshops. At the same time, designers and planners haveeffectively used field techniques, such as questionaires, interviewing, focus groups, and groupmapping, to aquire information. In general, many of the techniques facilitate citizens awarenessof enviromental situations and help activate creative thinking. The techniques can be classifiedas awareness methods, group interaction methods and indirect methods.MethodsData Collection as Public Involvement.Interviews.Surveys.File Reviews & Structured Observation.Case Studies.Small Group Methods, (focus group, Delphi, Charette, etc.).Secondary data, (e.g., Agency data).Reviews of Studies.Content Analyses.Diary Methods.Ethnographic Methods, (Field Studies, Participant Observation, Tester Audits).InterviewsStrengths and AdvantagesData can be rich, descriptive, and nuanced, expert interviews can capture complexityaccurately.Unstructured and semi-structured interview guides can be develped relatively quicklyPersonal approach ma work best with hard-to-reach and elite respondent.Costs, Weaknesses, DisadvantagesNot generablizable.Time consuming.difficult to record nuances or exact words.lack of structure limits comparison.Analysis can be time consuming.SurveysStrengths and AdvantagesCan produce results that are statistically precise.Can generalize if sample design, questions, response rates allow.
  5. 5. Data can be qualitative or quantitative.Can be an efficent way to gather information from many.(Especially web surveys).Costs, Weaknesses, DisadvantagesCan be resource intensive.Low response rates, questionnaire problems can limit usefulness.analysis of qualitative information can be time-consuming.choice of mode (mail or web, etc) affects structure of questions.Case Studies and Site VisitsStrengths and AdvantagesCan provide in-depth information about a topic, can explain complex events and circumstances.Multiple method approach can be corroborative - increases reliability and validity of findings.Costs, Weaknesses, DisadvantagesInformation is not generalizable.May require travel time and money.Analysis can be time consuming - voluminous data, subjective and hard to summarize andcompare.Selection of sites will have a big impact on the data collection.Small Group MethodsStrengths and AdvantagesAllows for group interaction on a topic.Can surface issues or ideas not obtained from single interviews.Experts might provide consensus opinion.Good moderator can ensure civility and equal opportunity to be heardCosts, Weaknesses, Disadvantages
  6. 6. Not a substitute for individual interviews.Can be costly – participant incentives, travel, taping and transcription.Data reduction and analysis can be difficult and time consuming.Need to control agreement.Requires trained facilitoror moderator.Ethnographic Methods(Field Studies, Participant Observation, Tester Audits).Strengths and AdvantagesData can be grounded & realistic.Convincing descriptions of real-time observations.Data may be less distorted, when collected in their ñnaturalî settingCosts, Weaknesses, DisadvantagesMay be challenging to get access to setting.Travel and real-time observation can be resource intensive,May be legal, ethical, political considerations.WHY INVOLVE THE PUBLIC?While it may seem easier to simply forge ahead and make decisions on their own, there aremany reasons why government and other sponsors are making increased use of directtechniques for public participation.Public participation can help to:Enhance effectiveness.Get it right.Decisions are complex, (we need to understand and include all relevant information, views,needs, and interests).Implementation is improved with public consent and commitment.Participation yields higher quality decisions.Meet a growing demand for public participation.Public desire to be involved in making decisions that will affect them.Need for greater openness of decision processes.Mistrust of expert advice.Resolve conflicts.Set priorities.Negotiate tradeoffs.Seek consensus.Increase fiscal responsibility.
  7. 7. Establish priorities.Find partners.Enhance public knowledge, understanding, and awareness.Share information.Opportunities for stakeholders to hear each other and better understand the range of views onan issue.Meet legal and policy requirements.International and national agreements.Federal and provincial legislation and regulation.Special rights of the people.Establish/solidify legitimacy.Participation is fundamental to democracy.Counter public mistrust of the "system".Allocate scarce resources.Public participation processes include information exchange, public consultation, engagement,shared decisions, and shared jurisdiction. These processes form a continuum based on theextent of involvement and role in decision making, from information exchange (least) to sharedjurisdiction (most). The processes are not separated by definitive boundaries; they flow into andbuild upon each other.In order to choose the right type of process we must understand the rationale for wanting orneeding to involve the public. Each public participation category can be implemented by using avariety of techniques.Information exchange:Purpose: creating awareness, education, exchange of views, encouraging responsiblebehaviours, and promotion of informed decision-making.Techniques: open houses, public/stakeholder meetings, surveys, discussion papers,publications and informal discussion.Public consultation:Purpose: two-way communication; getting stakeholder input, advice and feedback; discussionof tradeoffs and priorities; and becoming better informed.Techniques: advisory boards, stakeholder meetings, task groups, focus groups, workshops,public hearings, and a call for briefs.Engagement/dialogue:Purpose: in-depth exploration of views, perceptions and interests, with emphasis on listeningand achieving mutual understanding; exploration of values; and in some situations,working toward consensusTechniques: dialogue, open space technology, future search conference, and appreciativeinquiry.Shared decisions:Purpose: share responsibility, decentralize decision-making to the community level, achieveintegration, resolve conflicts, allocate scarce resources, and manage programs in amanner that respects and reflects community values.Techniques: delegation, legislated authority, responsibility and accountability, and localboards of education, health services, family, and children’s services.Shared jurisdictions:Purpose: recognize constitutional assignment of powers; recognize, respect and reflect
  8. 8. community values in governance decisions; make difficult allocation choices in adecentralized political context.Techniques: co-management, partnerships, collaborative processes, formal agreements.Citizen EngagementCitizen engagement refers to processes through which governments seek to encouragedeliberation, reflection, and learning on issues at preliminary stages of a policy process,often when the focus is more on the values and principles that will frame the way an issueis considered. Citizen engagement processes are used to consider policy directions thatare expected to have a major impact on citizens; address issues that involve conflicts invalues or require difficult policy choices or tradeoffs; exploring emerging issues thatrequire considerable learning, both on the part of government and citizens; and buildcommon ground by reconciling competing interests.Citizen engagement differs qualitatively from consultation in a number of ways,including an emphasis on in-depth deliberation and dialogue, the focus on finding.IMPORTANT FACTORS AND PRINCIPLES FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATIONThe following factors and principles should be considered in developing any plan that involvespublic participation in the development of public policy:Those involved in the process need to:See the big picture.Know why this is being done.Stated objectives.Processes need to be guided by clear objectives:For overall outcomes, (for policy, planning, etc).For public participation that are expressed in writing, (terms of reference, preliminary letter).Clear expectations.Theres needs to be clear about:Roles and responsibilities.What the public can expect from government.Who has the final decision.Inclusive process. Processes for citizen participation need to:Use processes appropriate to the level of feedback required and the available time.Involve the right participants at the right time.Create opportunities for expression of first voice and social/economic inclusion.Have clear criteria for stakeholder selection.Know who has an interest in a decision.The following factors are important when it comes to establishing trust:Openness.Honesty.Shared information.Transparency of process.Consistency.Avoiding surprises.Those designing processes need to:
  9. 9. Have flexibility.Know their stake-holders.Accommodate diverse needs and preferences.Be prepared to use a variety of methods to accommodate diverse interests and styles.Respect for divergent values and views.Effective processes need to:Place emphasis on understandingAvoid win-lose/adversarial processEnsure ground rules are in placeDESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PROCESSA public participation process is designed and implemented in four discreet stages, as outlinedbelow.1. Preliminary Design(a) Situation analysis.(b) Decision process.(c) Information exchange.(d) Public and stake-holders.(e) Planning team.(f) Approvals.2. Developing the Plan(a) Establish objectives.(b) Identify and address major issues.(c) Identify and involve the stakeholders.(d) Choose techniques.(e) Prepare to provide and receive information.(f) Develop critical path.(g) Budget, staff, resources, logistics, roles and responsibilities.(h) Prepare to give and get feedback.3. Implementation(a) Follow the critical path.(b) Apply techniques.(c) Provide and receive information.(d) Monitor the process.4. Feedback(a) Report to decision makers.(b) Report to participants.c) Evaluate the overall process.TECHNIQUESA number of emerging public participation techniques provide the opportunity for sharedengagement, which has been difficult to achieve with traditional techniques. This sectionprovides an overview of both traditional and emerging techniques.Traditional techniques include print publications, public meetings, open houses, advisorycommittees, workshops, bilateral meetings, and focus groups.
  10. 10. Emerging techniques include open space technology, future search conferences, policydialogue, and a suite of electronic techniques.In general, emerging techniques offer more in-depth opportunities for dialogue andcollaboration, with emphasis on value exploration and reaching consensus on shared outcomesin complex situations.It should be noted that public servants and community groups have numerous opportunities tointeract with each other, exchange information and gain a better understanding of each other’sviews and interests. All consultation and engagement activities are not necessarily formal.Traditional public participation techniquesThe following are simple descriptions intended to provide an overview of the types of techniquesavailable:Publications: All consultations produce some type of published material, which may describethe process, define the problem, issue or situation; suggest options; or request direct feedbackfrom readers on their views, interests or alternatives.Public meeting: Sessions open to anyone with an interest in the subject of the consultation arepublicized and held. Public meetings often begin with a technical overview of the situation andprocess, then provide opportunity for members of the public to speak from the floor regardingtheir concerns or to ask questions of expert panelists.Open house: An open house usually communicates information about a project or proposalthrough a series of displays. Staff are present to answer questions and provide clarification.Visitors are asked to register their views before leaving. Information handouts can be available.Advisory committee/task force: Groups are selected to represent a cross-section of interests,and may be asked to prioritize, review, make recommendations, develop alternatives, evaluate,assist, etc. Advisory groups tend to be long-term, whereas a task force has a short timehorizon.Workshops: Stakeholders are invited to attend a meeting to review information, define issues,solve problems or plan reviews. Generally, workshops are expected to educate participants andsolve a problem or develop a product such as an action plan. Most workshops use facilitation.Target briefings: These are designed to reach specific audiences who may benefit fromprivate and individually tailored presentations. Audiences for targeted briefings could includeministers, municipal officials, media or specific interest groups.Focus groups: Groups of eight or ten people are structured to represent a cross-section of thestakeholders affected by an issue. A moderator leads a discussion of the facts, exploringparticipants’ feelings, values, interests, concerns, etc.Bilateral meetings: The sponsoring agency meets directly with stakeholder groups to receivefeedback or discuss areas of interest. This can be useful if the issue under discussion isaccompanied by a high level of conflict.Toll-free phone line: This provides an impersonal opportunity for the public to give feedback,provide ideas or identify issues. The phone can be answered by a staff member who discussesthe issue directly with the caller, or by a taped message and opportunity to record comments.Interviews: Individual discussions with the public or representatives of interest groups may
  11. 11. allow participants to cover a wider range of information than is solicited on a questionnaire, andthus perhaps to identify new issues or concerns not previously considered.Surveys: Surveys are used to collect information, solicit opinions and build a profile of thegroups and individuals involved. They provide information to the public and help focus publicattention on specific issues.Public hearings: A public hearing is a forum at which stakeholders can make formalstatements about the issue at hand. Oral statements are often accompanied by written briefs.A panel representing the sponsoring agency may ask questions of the presenter. The panelgenerally submits a final report with findings and recommendations.Below are brief descriptions of six emerging techniques;Open space technology, uses plenary circles (i.e., participants sit in a circle) and has a few,simple rules. Breakout sessions are organized, led and reported on by self-selectedparticipants. This technique can maximize the creativity, energy, vision and leadership of allparticipants, and is egalitarian and inclusive. It can be used to set strategic direction, plan orinitiate a project, and develop standards, criteria or regulations. It has the ability to maximizeteamwork.Future search conferences, are workshop conferences at which 40-80 people join forces tovisualize a desired future and then design the steps needed to get the organization there. Thistechnique uses a Òwhole systemÓ approach and places emphasis on self-managed, small-groupdiscussions. It can be used when the solution to an issue or problem resolution may require achange in organizational mission, functions or structure.E-participation, includes a wide range of specific individual techniques, including e-mail,provision of Web site information, bulletin boards, chat and news groups, dialogue groups andvirtual communities. These low-cost approaches are only available to those who have accessto a computer and are useful when the policy community is spread over a broad geographicarea, or where open information-sharing is important.Public policy dialogue, involves in-depth, detailed work with a variety of stakeholders in acommittee or workshop format, usually to achieve consensus on diverse views, interests andvalues. In the policy development process, dialogue is especially useful at the value and goalclarification stage and during option selection if tradeoffs are required. Dialogue may last fromtwo days to two years, commonly two days per month for three to 12 months. Inclusiverepresentation of key stakeholders, often including the sponsor, is essential.Appreciative inquiry focuses on the positive aspects of a situation, opportunities, strengths,proven capacities and skills, resources — and affirms, appreciates and builds on existingstrengths. Appreciate inquiry is a very effective way to get people to think about theirdemonstrated abilities instead of listing and dwelling on problems or challenges.Study circles, explore a critical public issue in a democratic way; analyze a problem, developstrategies and actions; and look at issues from multiple viewpoints. Small-group discussionamong peers is often facilitated. Study circles have eight to 12 members and meet regularlyover a period of weeks or months. This technique is especially useful at the problem definition,values and goal clarification, option generation, and selection stages of policy development.
  12. 12. Characteristics and features of emerging public participation techniques;Engage citizens/public in a more meaningful way.Too much emphasis in the past on stake-holders.Reduce concern about corporatism.Allow deeper conversations about values, beliefs, concerns.Go beyond superficial discussions.Develop/expose common foundations.Collaborate and work toward consensus.Seek win-win outcomes.Place emphasis on understanding.Place emphasis on desired future.Think about/visualize where we want to go.Move away from negative past.Appreciate the positives and build on past success.Appreciative inquiry.Take what we want into the future.Allow participants maximum freedom.Rely on knowledge, skills, commitment and leadership of individuals.Open space, participant design.See a big picture view.Involve the whole system.Avoid fragmentation.Include low cost/high impact techniques:E-techniques: access, flexibility, narrow-casting.E-mail, newsgroups, discussion groups, Web pages, on-line review and feedback.Create effective policy networks.Redefine the policy community.Communities of interest, identity, place.Information, education, continuous shared learning.Virtual communities.Fully inclusive, speaking own voice.CITIZEN AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN THE POLICY DEVELOPMENT PROCESSFor each of the six stages in the policy development process, how might we engage citizensandthe community? What factors will we consider? What techniques might be effective?1. Problem definition2. Value/goal clarification3. Option generation4. Selection5. Implementation6. Evaluation• The issue of citizen participation has gradually gained importance since the end of the 1960s.• Various forms of participation that might improve the quality of democracy have beendiscussed in recent years. These include participation through constitutional reforms, the use ofICTs in politics and policy-making, and interactive policy-making. In general, the existing politicalinstitutions and the traditional hierarchical way of policy-making are not criticized.
  13. 13. • Citizen participation is mainly seen as an instrument to strengthen and support the wayrepresentative democracy is functioning now.• The local or national government should take and keep the initiative in policy-making.Initiatives ought to be taken from above. The process of involving citizens in politics and policy-making should not lead to the erosion of the primacy of the representative institutions. Thecentral focus of thought is not on citizens, but on the government.• The role of participation is mainly an instrumental one. That is, its main objective is to givecitizens and their organizations a say in the official political process. Participation is notregarded as a value in itself, but is merely aimed at producing a government.• Participation has no other functions.• Massive participation is undesirable and could even be dangerous. Though this is thedominant view, some authors (academics in particular), point to different, more expressiveelements of participation and consider citizen participation as essential to democracy.Guidelines for Involving the Public for ParticipationVisual urban planning documents presented to the public should display data in forms which areeasy to understand by a layperson, allowing for simulation of future states of a site afterintroducing parameters describing current state and planning conditions.The basis for analysis is the model of current land use.The parameters required show future states are;Intensity of development,Accepted height of buildings,Buildings’ placement on the plot and other conditions that the buildings must fulfil.The proposed documents should allow for envisioning the land use alternatives andunderstanding their potential environmental, economic, and social impacts.Principles of OrganizationCitizen participation in community betterment organizations and projects doesnt usually occurby chance alone. It happens because certain principles of organization are observed at anacceptable level to the participants. Six major principles were discussed:Citizens will voluntarily participate in a community activity when they: See positive benefits to be gained. Have an appropriate organizational structure available to them for expressing their interests. See some aspect of their way-of-life threatened. Feel committed to be supportive of the activity. Have better knowledge of an issue or situation. Feel comfortable in the group.Further, citizen participation can be improved by:
  14. 14. Stressing participation benefits. Organizing or identifying appropriate groups receptive to citizen input. Helping citizens find positive ways to respond to threatening situations. Stressing obligations each of us have toward community improvement. Providing citizens with better knowledge on issues and opportunities. Helping participants feel comfortable within the development group.E-governmentPublic participation in urban planning in the context of e-government, or ñthe use of informationtechnology to support government operations, engaging citizens, and providing governmentservices.îThe use of the Internet to engage citizens in urban planning has been constrained by the limitedavailability of suitable technical tools and concerns about digital inequality, as well as a lack of aclear understanding of how technology can meet the needs of citizens and professionals.New Internet technologies and expanding Internet access addresses these concerns, and whyurban planning requires a distinct technological approach from other e-government initiatives.Contemporary outreach can build from these early models using Internet tools to achieveconsensus about and coordination of new urban development.The Internet is a powerful tool for planners to expand the base of participants in planningprocesses and enhance traditional engagement approaches. Although Internet technologies arenew, the practice of engaging citizens in urban development processes is not. This studycontains a critical re-evaluation of planning participation history and theory in order to proposeways Internet tools can be used to realize more inclusive, democratic, and equitable planningprocesses.Planners could use internet tools to enhance the practice of planning. Used efficiently, Internettools could enhance the quality of public debate about planning issues, engage and mobilizepreviously apathetic citizens, and facilitate the planning process. While face-to-facecommunications and traditional public engagement methods like public meetings and publishedreports will continue to be important, they can and should be supplemented with onlineinformation and communication.The Internet has profoundly impacted the practice of urban planning as email, websites, onlineGeographic Information Systems (GIS), and online research have become central to theprofession. However, planner’s efforts to communicate information and interact with the publiconline has been minimal. Individual agencies have experimented with various tools, but manyhave not due to technical illiteracy, concerns about cost, equity concerns, or the usability ofavailable tools.New technologies are making the internet more interactive and easy to use than ever beforeThe Internet has several characteristics that distinguish it from other mediums ofcommunication. Online information is ubiquitous, available equally wherever an internetconnection is available. It is instantaneous, so emails and website updates are instantlyreflected irrespective time or geographic distance. It is highly scalable, a website can host onevisitor one day and 20,000 the next. It can be highly interactive, supporting quick and easycommunication between users and sources. Online content can be highly persistent, availableto find far longer and far easier than ephemeral audio and video broadcasts, or even printeddocuments. It can be conducive to the construction of a historical record, as all information canbe available, not just the latest plan.
  15. 15. The Internet is uniquely suited to communicating with discrete communities of interest;Thousands of neighborhoods, towns, and city-specific websites, called ñplaceblogsî, havesprung up across the country. These websites host online conversations, link to and analyzeonline public data, and help connect citizens who might not otherwise meet. These websites area broad-based and relatively permanent phenomenon.They publish and discuss information about local community planning. However, these effortsare often inconsistent, and not informed by a deep knowledge of planning processes. To theextent it is already being done, planners could help clarify information by taking the role uponthemselves.Online information enhances transparency and accountability, which benefits the least powerfulparticipants. While elites have lawyers and resources to conduct investigations, those with theleast amount of power are most reliant on public sources.Online information can help build a constituency for planning, explaining planning policies tocitizens making them better able to understand and support them in the public policy arena.Online information can help the development community learn about community concerns andalso applicable laws.Online information can help save plans from irrelevance. The persistent, iterative character ofonline information lends itself to linking visions, plans, and charrettes with implementationprocesses.Walter Dwight Moody, the legendary promoter of the Chicago Plan of 1909, ñPromotion ƒ is thedynamic power behind the throne of [urban planning] accomplishment.î