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CommunityViz is advanced yet easy-to-use GIS software designed to help people visualize, analyze and communicate about important community planning decisions.

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The Planners Guide to CommunityViz

by Doug Walker and Tom Daniels

Available now from APA Planners Press!

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Read more about how this GIS-based software can enliven the comprehensive planning process...

CommunityViz® Version 4.1

Check out the 3-D visualization component called Scenario 3D™, which uses the latest gaming technology and industry-standard formats compatible with CAD drawing tools, Google and Google SketchUp®. Download a free 30-day trial at


Screenshots from the new CommunityViz Version

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Mixed use buildout


CViz at work


Residential neighborhood


Bird’s-eye view of lowland village

CommunityViz® is a set of software tools for planning, designed with a specific mission in mind: to assist people in visualizing, analyzing, and communicating about potential futures of their communities. Since its public release in 2001, CommunityViz has aimed to promote collaborative, informed decision-making. The Foundation’s partnership with Placeways, LLC allows for continuous progress towards these goals, providing support and development to make the software ever more accessible, comprehensive and effective.

At the core of the philosophy that drives CommunityViz is the idea that people need ways to connect with each other, ways to share what they know and feel and ways to nurture the heart and soul of their communities. CommunityViz presents an innovative approach to fulfilling this need, using technology to tie together the practical aspects of planning and the things that make a community feel like a place where people belong. The fate of a community’s heart and soul rests on the decisions it makes. With CommunityViz, making good decisions becomes intuitive and engaging.

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and figures when it comes to planning. But the people behind CommunityViz recognize that planning is about more than that—it’s about how people feel about where they live. CommunityViz puts things in perspective. Its interactive analysis capabilities allow you to see the big picture while taking into consideration the details that matter. You can compare existing and potential scenarios, understand the impacts of making changes and visualize what your community might look like down the road.

Using sophisticated 3D computer models, straightforward controls, and people-friendly displays, CommunityViz helps illustrate alternative futures, capturing and conveying facts as well as feelings. With attention-getting output, it gives people a better way to understand and communicate the implications of their decisions. It’s powerful and it’s versatile: it can handle growth models, neighborhood design, regional plans, conservation development, land-use priorities and more—on any geographic scale, from individual sites to global studies.

And it works. Just ask the thousands of users in North America and more than 40 other countries. It’s used by non-profits, for-profits, landowners and all levels of government. It’s used by the public at public meetings, by planners who want to explore scenarios and by professionals integrating with specialized models and other tools. One workshop participant in the Sierra Foothills, CA describes CommunityViz as “way more powerful in showing the potential impacts than other software I’ve used.”

Although CommunityViz can’t make decisions for you, it can bring to light the realities of possible future scenarios, inspiring people to get involved. Russ Martin, Town Manager of Hayden, CO says: “To this day, that vision [of an evocative CommunityViz 3D model] stays in everyone’s mind. When things come up, people think of that and if nothing else, they say, ‘we should be careful.’”

CommunityViz is a way to help people care for the future by allowing them to write stories of places, both as they are and as they could be, fostering conversation among those who have a stake in the heart and soul of a community—not only for themselves, but for future generations.