Tool: CommunityViz


Latest version: 4.2 (for ArcGIS 10.1/10); 4.1 (for ArcGIS 9.2/9.3)
Requires ArcGIS 9.2 or greater
Cost: $850 (12 month, full service option); $500 (12 month, self service option); Purchase
Free Trial Available: For ArcGIS 10.1; ArcGIS 10; ArcGIS 9.2/9.3 (v 4.1)


Documentation available
Case studies
The Planners Guide to CommunityViz: The Essential Tool for a New Generation of Planning by Doug Walker and Tom Daniels


From Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools, published by the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy:

CommunityViz is a 3D analysis and planning extension for ArcGIS that provides scenario planning, analysis, and 3D visualization (Walker and Daniels 2011). It was created by the Orton Family Foundation and released in 2001. In 2004–2005, development and operations were spun off into a new company called Placeways, which now markets and develops CommunityViz in partnership with the foundation.

The software helps communities and regions understand the implications of planning decisions and scenarios. It offers a range of tools for community design and planning, including development of realistic 3D models, build-out analysis, suitability analysis, impact assessment, and growth modeling. Public participation is a key focus, and the software includes numerous features to support public workshops and interactive sessions with diverse audiences. It has been used in conjunction with chip games and electronic meeting tools, and as a facilitation tool to help groups understand and make better planning decisions.

Scenario 360, the scenario analysis component, has easy-to-use exploration tools, setup wizards for particular planning applications, standard impact calculations, and a sophisticated geospatial formula engine for creating custom models and analyses. The Common Impacts Wizard can produce  up to 16 custom indicators based on userentered formulas. The Land Use Designer allows land use scenarios to be sketched on a map using predefined or user-customized land use types. Users create their own scenarios for a region or community starting with existing GIS data and then sketch on the map or specify land use policies. Using builtin standard formulas or their own custom models, users measure how scenarios perform relative to user-defined objectives.

A typical Scenario 360 analysis compares the implications of three or four scenarios using dozens or hundreds of indicators displayed in charts, maps, and tables. Weighted factors can be changed to show how different values and priorities impact the final analysis. A real-time update capability allows users to change input settings, assumptions, and weightings, or to edit features on the map and get immediate updates that result from these changes.

Specialized map editing capabilities provide a wide range of sketch modes including place types, chip games, land use “painting” to create different options on a map, and tight integration with ArcGIS templates and sketch tools. Assumptions and values can be changed “on the fly” to update the analysis.

The Build-Out Wizard calculates the development capacity of a scenario. Additional tools are available for growth allocation, suitability and risk analysis, fragmentation and optimization, and other planning functions. CommunityViz models and formulas are open, transparent, editable, and sharable. The tool also has the ability to connect to other tools such as Microsoft Excel or specialized impact models for real-time data sharing and updates.

The Scenario 3D component allows users to build complex, interactive, photorealistic 3D scenes from two dimensional data, which can be explored with ArcGIS flythrough technology or GoogleEarth, or exported as 3D models in common CAD and SketchUp formats. A ModelBuilder3D component also allows users to generate realistic 3D models of objects such as buildings and trees, or other tools such  as SketchUp can be used.

CommunityViz currently provides three different methods of creating realistic 3D models of proposed plans. The GoogleEarth exporter makes .kml files compatible with GoogleEarth, ArcGIS Explorer, and other viewers. Scenario 3D, which comes with CommunityViz, creates very realistic, smaller-scale scenes that use SketchUp building models and can be viewed with a free viewer. An ArcScene extension allows users to work in the ArcGIS 3D environment. Community Viz can be used with, but does not include, an external travel model.


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