The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) and the Prince George's County Planning Department, recognizing the value of 3D modeling and Planning Decision Support Systems (PDSS) as well as the challenges involved with institutionalizing the use of these tools in the county's planning process, issued an RFP for a "Plan for Capacity Building Using 3D & Modeling Applications". The Environmental Simulation Center (ESC), in collaboration with Rhodeside Harwell, a multidisciplinary planning and landscape architecture firm in the Washington DC region, were selected as the Consultant Team. The RFP stipulated that the Plan included an in-depth needs assessment of the Department, an evaluation of available tools, and a survey documenting the use of 3D modeling and PDSS tools by planning departments in the U.S., Australia, and Canada.
The project commenced in September 2009. Although the project started with a focus on matching 3D modeling and Planning Decision Support Systems to the Planning Department's needs and making training recommendations, early research and interviews with other agencies indicated that the far bigger challenge to tool adoption were institutional in nature. Indeed, as there are many tools that can be applied to many planning activities, and that set of tools is constantly changing, "building capacity" requires addressing the structure and culture of the organization in terms of how the technology is managed and decisions-made about the allocation of resources. As a result, our most important recommendations were those that concern building an institutional framework to support capacity building and decision-making - not only for the recommended tools, and other technologies, but staffing and the development of applications which would best advance the goals and projects of the Planning Department.
The Prince George's County Planning Department has adopted the Plan and is currently in the process of implementing its findings and recommendations.