Replica was thrilled to attend and play a prominent role in this year’s National Planning Conference
Replica was thrilled to attend and play a prominent role in this year’s National Planning Conference (NPC23), organized by the American Planning Association (APA). NPC23 was hosted in Philadelphia and featured 4,000 attendees from across the country and beyond. Core content areas at NPC23 included but were not limited to the climate emergency, diversification of transportation, and implementation of federal programs and grants. In addition to co-hosting a networking reception and a dinner that featured Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney as a special guest, Replica’s presence at the conference was highlighted by Senior Solution Engineer Arthur Getman’s participation in a panel discussion on “Emerging Big Data, Trends and Public Policies.”
In this blog post, we showcase some key takeaways from the conference by some of Replica’s attendees.
Given my prior leadership roles with the APA at both the national and local levels, I always value the opportunity to attend the annual NPC and learn from subject matter experts across the broad spectrum of the planning profession. At NPC23, I had the good fortune of attending a number of engaging panel discussions on topics ranging from the Justice40 Initiative and transit-supportive community development to the uses of big data and first-/last-mile connectivity.
One of many memorable conference sessions focused on the admirable effort to create a National Zoning Atlas. As described on zoningatlas.org, this collaborative initiative “will enable comparisons across jurisdictions, illuminate regional and statewide trends, and strengthen national planning for housing production, transportation infrastructure, and climate response.” When completed, the National Zoning Atlas will effectively complement Replica’s nationwide land use data, which provides our customers with unique insights into the built environment. For instance, the National Zoning Atlas will shed light on the buildable square footage of different housing types across jurisdictional boundaries, which will dovetail with Replica’s parcel-level land use data that also includes information about the number of existing dwelling units broken down by category (e.g., single- vs. multi-family). There are many potential applications of the National Zoning Atlas to inform planning work across the country, and when combined with Replica data, the sky's the limit on what’s possible in tackling the challenges facing the built environment.
I initially joined APA in California as a student member while getting my Masters at the University of Southern California. Despite years of being on the newsletter list – this was my first APA Conference! APA for me was a chance to reconnect with those that I started my career in planning with – other USC alums that have taken the helm of planning and zoning roles across the country, including at the Cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and even Chicago. Alongside my former classmates, I connected with numerous former colleagues and clients from my days at LA Metro, Nelson\Nygaard, and NACTO.
As planning becomes more intersectional as a profession, I appreciate the nuance with which this is embodied in APA’s approach to programming and fostering community. While I’m a transit planner by education and practice, I found myself in conversations about transit-oriented development, the reduction of GHG and VMT to attain climate goals, and the importance of creating safe, walkable communities. Transportation is what connects so many of our communities, but it is the planning work done by APA’s members that allows us to ensure they have thriving places on either end of those journeys.
This year, the NPC conference brought together planners from all over the country who were passionate about tackling a wide range of issues related to transportation and housing. One of the highlights of the conference for me was participating in a panel discussion moderated by Ram Maddali of OTHON Engineering. I shared the stage with Akila Thamizharasan and Cary Karnstadt from Replica customer Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). During the panel discussion, Cary discussed how different data sources can be used to inform large corridor analyses, and highlighted some of the challenges that arise when working with different sources of data. Meanwhile, Akila presented on the big data sources her team used in evaluating the feasibility of developing a connected and automated vehicle (CAV) corridor in Austin. Our discussion centered around the necessity for data literacy and understanding data limitations. Replica has taken a keen approach to this question by seeking to inform agencies about the state of big data.
Beyond the panel discussion, at both networking events and other conference sessions one of the prevailing themes was the opportunity and necessity to rely on a growing number of data tools. In a session on measuring equity in transportation planning, HDR’s Catherine LaFata mentioned how USDOT values equity analyses and seeks to empower agencies with tools to evaluate the equitability of their work. Never has there been a time where so many in the planning field are embracing and leveraging data to advance the field and help facilitate growing work demands as IIJA funds continue to stream into our communities.
Replica is excited to be involved in the planning community! If you are interested in co-hosting an event, speaking opportunity, or webinar please contact us!