GTECH attends the Pennsylvania APA Conference Posted on October 27, 2015 by wpengine Share this post Linking Current Planning Methodology and Ideals to GTECH’s Work The American Planning Association-Pennsylvania Chapter held its annual conference this past week (October 18-October 20) in downtown Pittsburgh. Thinking through community design and implementing best practices is especially relevant to GTECH’s work in helping citizens facilitate positive change in their respective communities. The theme of the conference, “Making Great Communities Happen,” was highlighted in the breakout educational sessions as well as the keynote speakers. GTECH is looking to show the economic implications that our work has on communities and a good model to follow may be the work that the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is doing to value land and recreational opportunities in the Lehigh Valley. The Commission found that wetlands and areas that capture stormwater are the most valuable land from an economic standpoint, and there is a direct link to improved health impacts as the water supply is improved. Another great example of planning ideas that directly translate into the work GTECH does is the work of the Trail Town Program, which ensures that trail communities and businesses maximize the economic potential of the trail. The Program works to address trail-wide issues and opportunities through regional cooperation and to build the connection between trail and town. GTECH’s Ambassador programming works with communities with elevated levels of blight and vacancy and their members to tackle important issues from community development to environmental concerns. The Trail Town Program provides an important look into rural community development models that could be used at the state level, including our work in under served areas of Allegheny County. The keynote speaker for the conference was Gil Penalosa – the founder and Board Chair of 8 80 Cities. All trips begin and end with walking…Every city should have a law of two words: pedestrians first. Gil Penalosa spoke about the importance of creating safe and walkable communities – read more about his inspiring words and their relevance to the work we do. The most resonating takeaway from the conference was the trend of using mobile applications to determine the number of people using amenities and land. Using current technology to collect data and inform decisions could lead to a new realm of planning and policy work locally and statewide. The ability to collect data on who is using community assets has the potential for GTECH to make better land use decisions and target vacant spaces that would have the highest impact on the community. Several speakers spoke to the potential of using social media, applications, and other technology to incorporate data into land use decision making. GTECH’s internal methodology: Investigate, Take Action, Connect and Sustain resonates well with the idea of making decisions and developing programs based off of data and research. Our Green Playces program started from a white paper looking at the correlation between vacancy in urban areas and the number of environmental educational opportunities that existed in each neighborhood. GTECH recently rolled out the Lots to Love website, which can be used as a guide for land use ideas and projects that are already happening in/around your neighborhood. This site works on mobile platforms and GTECH hopes that partners share ideas on their projects and current land use decisions, and it gives residents access to property and tax information for all parcels. Check out planningpa.org for all the conference presentations and to learn more about the organization.