Mike McCoy: From Data to Deliberation: Advancing the Role of Information in the Planning Process

Department of City and Regional Planning Professional Planning Colloquium

Mike McCoy is the director of the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center at the University of California–Davis. He is a 35-year veteran of the information wars. McCoy created the university's Land Use and Natural Resource Extension Program which attracts 4,000 practitioners a year to continuing education courses; and he was a founder of the Information Center for the Environment, a university facility with 30employees dedicated to developing data and information in support of public decision processes.

McCoy's talk will focus on the important role of information in the planning process. The hording of information in silos is a hallmark of government, academia, and professional consulting. Information rather than professional practice is seen as the currency of planning. The secretive amassing of data by single institutions and firms resembles a nuclear arms race. The costs of this institutional and individual behavior are in the billions of dollars per year in California alone. Worse yet, environmentally unsound, socially irresponsible, improperly scoped projects arise from this practice to haunt our landscape for generations. Fiscal constraint, more severe environmental challenges, generational change in social consciousness and new technology may be merging to suggest a way out. Networked information hubs, public participatory data modeling, and the web itself are eroding past practices. Business models that feature talent, creativity, and service are competing with those that offer closed proprietary solutions and there is possibly the beginning of a thaw in an interagency information cold war that government agencies can no longer afford.