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Goals

PAULUS (Planning Analysis of Urban Linkages within Urban Systems) is a web-based information system devoted to documenting the complexity of the decision making processes in a given planning context.

Actually, a urban planning process produces a huge amount of documents, which are often archived and may be made available to the public in ways which are difficult to access. Therefore there is often no readily-available description of when, how and why the corpus and the documentation of decision areas changed.

The purpose of PAULUS is to supply a web-based tool fitting the need to better describe the decision system and its evolution in time

Our view of the Urban Planning Process

The urban planning process often involves many actors (aka stakeholders: technical staff, politicians, land owners, pressure groups, etc.). Each stakeholder has its own view of how the urban context should change, and definitely there are pressures toward very different directions. By interacting each other, however, the stakeholders (perhaps with a technical support by their experts) eventually identify a set of decision areas for which a choice is needed. A decision area may be regarded as a simple question related to planning problems. Each problem may have a number of possible solutions (options).

This is half of the story, however, because the "process" is not synoptic, but instead it takes place in months, years or, even, it is deferred for future needs. During the process, the decision areas, options, actors, as well as the supporting documents are not immutable: they experience changes, often drastic, both in number and extent. Therefore the time axis is the other half of the story.

In order to pursue our goals, then, we are not simply called to categorize and record the actors, decision areas, options and documents entering into the urban planning process. We need also to trace how, when and why these objects evolve in time. We regard this as a main requirement to attain decision traceability: to us, an information system on the urban decision process must implement techniques to track a decision down the time axis.

Breaking the Continuum

Since time is (supposed to be) a continuum, there are no easy nor unique way to document such a dimension, according our view of the urban planning process. We opted to discretize it by assuming that we are only interested in the events triggering "public" changes to the corpus of the decision areas, options, actors and documents. We use a broad meaning of "event": it may, for example, be the outcome of a meeting among some of the actors, a new law issued, or a new actor entering into the process.

Technical details

The project is developed as a Java Enterprise Application using the Java ServerFaces (JSF), Facelets, Hibernate, and JBoss-seam technologies. It runs on a JBoss Application Server (AS) and adopts PostgreSQL as its database engine.

It is distributed under the GNU General Public License

Colophon

This project stems from a study of Paolo Scattoni from the DiPTU (Dipartimento interateneo per la Pianificazione Territoriale ed Urbana), "La Sapienza" University in Rome, Italy.

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