Diffusion of Computer Technology in California Local Government Planning Agencies

I recently dusted off my master’s thesis (typewritten) and scanned it into a PDF file.  The topic, technology adoption by urban planners, is still of interest to me but the types of technology have changed dramatically since 1985.  For my thesis I surveyed all California city and county planning agencies to ask about their adoption of computer technologies.  With a quite respectable response rate of 81% (403 out of 497) I was able to show the state of computer use by planners, which existed in only about 60% of planning offices at the time.  It was also interesting to note that nearly half of the planning offices felt computers were only having a moderate impact on the planning profession.  I have to assume that much has changed in the past 30 years.  (Click to view thesis).


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Mapping the Knowledge Domain of Planning by Tom Sanchez and Nader Afzalan

25modeAs we know, the field of urban planning is far reaching in breadth and depth. This is due to the complex nature of cities, regions, and associated development patterns. Referring to the ambitious field of urban planning, Aaron Wildavsky famously remarked, “If planning is everything, maybe it’s nothing” (Wildavsky, 1973). Is planning everything? And what does that mean for someone trying to understand planning? Using the recent Guide to Undergraduate and Graduate Education in Urban and Regional Planning (20th Edition, dated 2013) published by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, we examined the question of “what is planning?” by analyzing the areas of expertise and interests for over 900 regular faculty listed in the Guide. These are self-reported areas of teaching and research interests that can be used to characterize contemporary aspects of planning. Rather than just reporting the frequency of topics mentioned across planning faculty, network analysis was used to illustrate the range and interconnections between topics. The results are used to report the knowledge domain of U.S. planning faculty (see the full paper here).

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The TechniCity MOOC: An Interview with Tom Sanchez by Philip Young

Last summer I wrote a brief post about access to scholarship in a MOOC co-taught by Tom Sanchez, Professor in Urban Affairs and Planning, shortly after the course’s initial offering. After TechniCity was offered again this past spring, I thought I would ask Tom more questions about the course. Read more…

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TechniCity MindMixer Data Available

Several participants of the TechniCity MOOC have asked for the raw data of comments and other activity from the MindMixer discussion forum.  An Excel file of all activity is now available for download here.

Please be sure to share the results of your analyses with the rest of us and post on Twitter using #technicity or on the TechniCity LinkedIn page.




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2014 Urban Planning Citation Analysis

At the end of 2013, I posted an initial citation analysis for urban planning academics using Google Scholar citations (see: bit.ly/1lNyHR8). I also emailed the individual data to each of the faculty included in the analysis to get their feedback. I would like to thank everyone who responded confirming or correcting their information, as well as those providing comments and suggestions. The results below summarize a more complete analysis that is being prepared for publication. There are a few things I would like to mention, each being discussed in much more detail in a forthcoming article.

  1. The previous analysis was based on the 2011 ACSP Guide to Undergraduate and Graduate Education in Urban and Regional Planning.  This analysis uses the 2013 Guide (19th Edition). All schools and regular faculty (i.e., tenure track) in the Guide are included.
  2. Citation analysis is one of several ways to gauge faculty productivity and impact. Teaching, service, funded research, etc. are other facets of what we do, but are not accounted for. Therefore scholarly publication is the focus here.
  3. Google Scholar citation counts (as of March – May 2014) were used for the analysis. There is some debate about the accuracy of Google Scholar versus Scopus or Web of Science, about which I will provide a complete discussion in an upcoming publication.
  4. Traditional citation analysis includes books, chapters, and journal articles – materials commonly controlled by publishers. The nature of “citations” is changing and Google Scholar reflects this by including some non-traditional citation types.  I argue Google Scholar is quite appropriate for the field of planning. (See an earlier discussion in my paper from the Journal of the World Universities Forum).
  5. School/program rankings are based on median values (instead of mean) to control for outliers. For instance, Arizona State University has the highest mean number of faculty citations (one of their faculty members has the highest number of citations among planning programs), but is ranked 12th using the median number of citations.
  6. While I am quite confident in the results, there are inevitable errors in the data attributable to the following:
    1. Citation data are dynamic and change daily. What is presented below is a snapshot at a particular point in time.
    2. The uniqueness of author names influences the accuracy of citation counts. Common names, name changes, non-use of middle initials or middle names (by authors or publishers), misspellings, and other parsing errors can lead to improperly attributed publications.
    3. The number of citations per year is used to control for the age of faculty members. Programs with older faculty are expected to have greater numbers of citations – just by virtue of having more time. Unfortunately, the exact year that a faculty member started their academic career is not known, so the year they obtained their terminal degree is used as a proxy. There is also no data available on leaves taken or time off.
    4. I use data directly from Google Scholar Citations where faculty have existing profiles. These are assumed to be correct and contain only publications authored or co-authored by them. There were 202 profiles out of the 923 faculty included in the analysis.

I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.

Table 1 list the top 25 planning schools based on the median  number of GS citations per faculty member. Table 2 lists the top 25 in terms of citations per year of service (or year since degree) to account for faculty age or experience.



The citation data can also be compared by the school where each faculty member received their terminal degree (usually a PhD). Table 3 shows the top 25 universities (not necessarily planning degrees) in terms of median total citation output.


Although there is a significant amount of variation among individual planning faculty citations that effect department-level performance, there are distinct trends based on seniority. Figures 1 and 2 show both increasing mean and median citation totals by years of experience and rank.

Figure 1.


Figure 2.


Finally, there are many planning faculty with citation totals far exceeding the average levels discussed (the top 25 are shown in Table 4). All of the previous summary information for planning schools is based on GS citation totals for individual planning faculty. These totals will change over time as the data are corrected and updated as previously mentioned.  Please direct your questions or comments to me at: tom.sanchez@vt.edu.

Table 4. Top 25 cited planning faculty

Rank Name Citations
1 Luc Anselin 35,470
2 Michael Storper 23,431
3 James W. Varni 20,209
4 AnnaLee Saxenian 17,771
5 Robert Cervero 14,987
6 Harry W. Richardson 12,370
7 Neil Brenner 11,318
8 Martha Feldman 10,472
9 John Forester 10,125
10 Reid Ewing 9,386
11 Lawrence D. Frank 8,954
12 Michael K. Lindell 8,546
13 John M. Bryson 8,219
14 George Galster 8,006
15 Michael Dear 7,729
16 Meric Gertler 7,162
17 Susan Fainstein 6,927
18 Nik Theodore 6,414
19 Alan Murray 6,086
20 Lawrence Susskind 5,988
21 John R. Pucher 5,619
22 Jennifer Wolch 5,329
23 Marlon Boarnet 5,321
24 Geoffrey Hewings 5,316
25 Rob Shields 5,163

*This table was updated on 10/9/2014 due to an error detected in Google Scholar citation counts.

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TechniCity 2014 about to get underway….


The TechniCity preview will launch this week (see: https://www.coursera.org/course/techcity).  One exciting aspect is the geographic diversity of students enrolled in the class.  As we learned last time, this adds richness to our discussions and the examples that students share with each other.  We are excited about the start of the class and look forward to connecting with the global TechniCity.

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TechniCity eBook


The TechniCity eBook captures the experience of the Spring 2013 MOOC.

Check out the newly released TechniCity eBook!  In this eBook we outline the TechniCity Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that was conducted in the Spring of 2013. The eBook can be used as an introduction and guidebook for the course because it describes the course structure and provides examples of course activities. Because the course will grow and change over time, revised versions of the TechniCity eBook will be made available. (Click to download)

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