Winners of the 2015 OPTG Innovation Awards!

The OPTG is pleased to announce the winners of the second annual Innovation Awards. Since 2010, the Open Planning Tools Group has brought together academics, tool developers and high capacity users to improve planning tools and technology. Scenario planning, civic engagement, opportunity mapping, and data standards are just a few of the tool areas in which this group has collaborated.

With initial support from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute, and ongoing support from its members, the OPTG hosts an annual symposium that draws innovators from around the country, as well as monthly calls, a web site, and reports such as the 2012 Advancing Scenario Planning Tools Policy Focus Report from Lincoln Institute. Through this group, tools are becoming more open, accessible, and effective, leading to more informed decisions for the communities that use them. It is in this spirit that we are pleased to announce the winners of our second annual Innovation Awards.

This year, we are presenting awards in three categories. The Innovative Tool Award highlights a tool that has made a significant contribution to the open planning tools landscape. The second award for this year is the Exemplary Implementation Award, which recognizes a planning process or project that utilized planning tools in an innovative manner to create effective public engagement or improved analysis supporting the resolution of a significant challenge. The third award introduces a new category for this year by recognizing an innovative student contribution to planning tools. This award is given specifically to students who have contributed innovative solutions to the open planning tools space – either through cutting edge research or through the advancement of innovative tools.

This year’s winners are:

Innovative Tool Award

GreaterPlaces, a crowdsourced “How To” manual for creating great places. Launched in 2014, GreaterPlaces is an online, visual collection of use cases for placemaking, policies and public participation. In addition, GreaterPlaces provides a platform for engagement and interactivity for anyone and everyone interested in city and town design.

Learn more about the tool at:

Exemplary Implementation Award
Imagine Hillsborough 2040 | MetroQuest

Working in partnership with the Hillsborough MPO and Planning Commission and Jacobs Engineering, MetroQuest helped engage citizens and businesses online, in workshops and at touchscreen kiosks in the creation of a vision for 2040 to guide growth and development in greater Tampa, Florida. The visual and educational software collected input on planning alternatives from approximately 6,000 participants. The resulting vision represents a turning point for the region, calling for smart growth and powerful synergies between land use and transportation.

Learn more about MetroQuest’s Imagine 2040 project:


Innovative Student Contribution to Planning Tools Award
OppMap | University of Maryland

OppMap makes important contributions to the exercise of opportunity mapping by, among other things, including the ability to select and weight opportunity indicators relative to different preferences and making the indices available to the public.

Eli Knaap designed and built a working proof-of-concept OppMap platform while working on his PhD at the University of Maryland. Since then, the platform has continued to grow into a fully featured online application thanks to generous support from outside partners.

Learn more about the University of Maryland’s OppMap tool:

In addition to recognition for their achievements the award recipients will receive a cash prize of $500. We’ll be rolling out more info about each tool and process in the coming weeks.

Critter Thompson

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