Esri's Easy-to-Use GeoPlanner Will Appeal to Urban Planners New to GIS

Archived Published: 22 July 2014 ID: G00269154


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Esri's new GeoPlanner and updated CityEngine further its aim of reaching land use planners who are casual or expert users of GIS software. The products make it easier to integrate with other tools to support many use cases.

News Analysis


On 18 July 2014, Esri officially launched GeoPlanner, an easy-to-use but powerful tool for casual GIS users. GeoPlanner, a Web application based on JavaScript, uses ArcGIS Online to create, analyze and report on urban planning alternatives. Esri also updated its CityEngine 3D modeling software with a reusable library.


As urban planning becomes more "digitalized," elected officials, appointed bodies and citizens will have greater access to — and understanding of — more information when making decisions. This access will enhance decisions on land use, urban planning, public safety, natural resources, emergency response and utilities. Esri's announcement will appeal to engineers, city planners and policymakers who don't typically use GIS.

GeoPlanner should help both developers and members of the public who have difficulty understanding permitting and zoning restrictions described in complex documents. GeoPlanner and CityEngine communicate development potential, zoning violations and regulatory constraints as easy-to-understand 2D and 3D shapes on maps.

Casual users can quickly learn to use GeoPlanner. Once proficient, they should benefit from the greater functions and features of CityEngine's ready-to-use planning templates and intuitive workflow for 3D spatial models.

CityEngine requires considerable training but can publish 3D scenes direct to the Web for analysis. Its editing tools enable quick sketching and texturing of 3D models. Its geometry procedural rule engine is available on GitHub as a software development kit and plug-ins to enable third-party development and integration with other applications. It also supports users developing their own modeling solutions using other tools and data.


Chief information officers and GIS managers:

  • Assess GeoPlanner if your planning department needs to produce "as-built" 2D comparisons.

  • Evaluate GeoPlanner for event or land use planning, as it offers easy-to-use templates and easy-to-follow workflows for such use cases.

  • Consider CityEngine when you have collected base layers for 3D models — terrain, buildings and vegetation — and need to visually assess development relationships, conflicts and constraints.

  • Evaluate CityEngine when you need to integrate imaging technologies to further harness 3D capabilities.

  • Investigate CityEngine's options for sharing 3D models. Ensure its 3D models are compatible with Web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, as you need to share and edit models via the Web to support public participation.

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