INDEX Digital Charrette Participants Iterate to the Best-Performing Scenarios

Local planners in Lee County Florida have ‘painted’ themselves a preferred growth scenario that will form the basis of transportation planning for the 700,000-person Fort Myers region through 2040. Using INDEX Online and the companion SPARC data transformation service, 20 planners from ten jurisdictions and the regional MPO integrated their data into a common schema, built a common palette of desired future land-use types, and painted three alternative growth scenarios aimed at reducing VMT and greenhouse gas emissions.

Planners were able to participate online individually from any location, or as a group in a digital charrette. INDEX is open-source and web-served, so participants only need a web browser, not GIS software. This makes the process more accessible and engaging for non-technical participants, and the group can instead focus on substantive issues and the most goal-responsive scenario. INDEX scores scenarios with user-selected indicators in real-time as ‘painting’ occurs, so participants are able to use that feedback to iterate to a preferred outcome. In the case of Lee County, it was a scenario that reversed earlier projected increases in VMT and GHG emissions, and instead produced significant reductions through 2040. The accompanying video illustrates scenario painting in Lee County, and the project’s final report is available at

INDEX Online and SPARC are supporting similar scenario planning initiatives in Mississippi and Minnesota. In Mississippi, the Gulf Regional Planning Commission is using INDEX to introduce and test transit-oriented development concepts in growth planning among three counties and 14 cities as part of its long-range transportation planning. In Minnesota, three counties and 31 municipalities and townships are using INDEX and SPARC to create a common data warehouse, and in a series of digital charrettes, paint and evaluate 2040 growth scenarios in seven transit corridors covering 170 square miles.

More information about SPARC and INDEX is at, or contact Thom York,

Critter Thompson

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