The primary goal of the planning profession is to improve the communities we live and work in. Urban planners work with community members, public officials, and other groups to identify community issues, goals, or needs. Using research, data analysis, and collaboration techniques, planners then develop plans to create, grow, or revitalize a community or area. For example, planners may examine plans for proposed facilities, such as new or refurbished parks, to ensure that these facilities will meet the needs of a changing population.
As an area grows or changes, planners help communities manage the related economic, social, and environmental issues, such as reducing the threat of localized flooding, sheltering the homeless, or making the region more attractive to businesses.
Some planners work on broad, long-term plans, while others engage in short-term planning focused on specific issues. Ultimately, all planners promote the best use of a community’s land and resources for residential, commercial, or recreational purposes.
Planners use a variety of tools and technology in their work, including geographic information systems (GIS) tools that analyze and manipulate geographic data. For example, planners may use GIS to overlay a land use map with traffic count or population data. They also use statistical software, visualization and presentation programs, spreadsheets, and other database and software programs.