There's an App for That: Mobile Applications That Advance Urban Planning

There's an App for That: Mobile Applications That Advance Urban Planning

Jennifer S. Evans-Cowley (The Ohio State University, USA) and Brittany Kubinski (The Ohio State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8150-7.ch002


The number of worldwide mobile device users is increasing rapidly, as are the number of applications to serve these devices. Urban planners have the opportunity to use a wide array of mobile applications to increase productivity, share information, and engage with the public. This chapter explores a number of mobile applications that can add value to the work that urban planners undertake. It also considers the types of applications that could be developed to assist planners in their efforts to understand cities and engage with the public.
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Planners Use Of Mobile Applications

In order to understand how planners are using mobile application, a survey was distributed asking planners about the types of mobile apps they are currently using, apps they would like to see developed and apps their planning agency may be developing. Using social media, posts were made on LinkedIn groups, such as the American Planning Association and an email solicitation was sent out via the Ohio American Planning Association Chapter listserv in December 2013.

Responses were received from 237 planners across the United States. The majority of respondents (38%) were from the Northeast/Atlantic, and about 26% and 13% in the Midwest and Southern regions, respectively. Most participants responded that they work in the public sector. Of the planners surveyed, 91% either own a smartphone or plan to purchase one in the future. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed use their smartphone for work purposes, while 42 percent are using tablets at work. Planners who responded that they own a smartphone were asked about various types of apps that they use and the frequency of their use, see Table 1.

Table 1.
App usage by U.S. planners
Never Use This Type of AppDailyTwice or More a WeekWeeklyMonthly
Types of AppsNote taking apps (such as notes, quick office, office2, etc.)23%22%19%14%22%
File sharing apps (such as dropbox)51%8%13%10%18%
Social media apps (such as twitter, facebook, etc.)8%72%11%8%0%
Productivity apps (such as photoshop etc.)40%15%15%10%21%
Presentation apps (such as powerpoint, prezi, etc.)56%7%8%7%22%
Planning specific apps (please specify below)69%7%9%4%11%

Source: authors’ own elaboration

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