Staff from MORPC’s Planning and Environment department recently traveled to Washington DC, to attend the Convening of Regional Agencies, a workshop focused on accelerating the accessibility of scenario planning tools. The workshop was hosted by the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), PlaceMatters, and the Federal Highway Administration.

MORPC was joined by regional planning commissions and councils of government from across the country, including Sacramento (Sacramento Area Council of Governments), Salt Lake City (Wasatch Front Regional Council), Denver (Denver Regional Council of Governments), Kansas City (Mid-America Regional Council), and Boston (Metropolitan Area Planning Council). Together with academic experts and federal agencies, this 34-person group agreed on the necessity of a national consortium that will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the most-utilized scenario planning tools on the market. The group also plans to develop a framework and central hub of knowledge for high quality open-source and transparent scenario planning applications.

“There is great value in robust data analysis tools,” said MORPC’s Planning and Environment Director, Kerstin Carr, who attended the workshop. “They can help communities make informed decisions, however, the usefulness can be limited by their cost and complexity.”

Here in Central Ohio, MORPC, Columbus 2020, and the Columbus District Council of the Urban Land Institute created the collaborative initiative insight2050, a report that utilizes regional demographic and economic data to evaluate the impacts of different regional growth scenarios. The findings of insight2050 have helped spark valuable conversations with community leaders and residents in Central Ohio. The data provides opportunities for collaboration for the public, local governments, businesses, and real estate developers.

“With insight2050, Central Ohio communities can evaluate the effects of population growth and changing development preferences on a variety of factors,” said Jennifer Noll, an associate planner at MORPC. “The growth scenarios in particular offer valuable information for decision making at the local level.”

In the coming months, the group will further discuss the structure and action items of the consortium and identify partners and funders who can enhance collaboration and build capacity for this effort.


This article originally appeared in the January 14 Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Regional eSource Newsletter.