Planning Support System (PSS) are broadly defined as geo-information technology-based instruments designed to assist in the decision-making processes associated with urban planning and policy-making. The online What If? tool is one such PSS which has been built on the principles of transparency, flexibility, and user-friendliness. It enables planners to explore an envelope of what if? scenarios and understand the implication of land supply, demand and future urban growth of a city, metropolitan area or region. The online What If? tool beta version has been developed as one of the foundation digital workbench tools available via the Australian Housing Data Analytics Platform (AHDAP).
Utilising open and public datasets, the AHDAP-What If? PSS possesses the capability to support significant and challenging tasks within land use and urban planning areas. These tasks include: 1) analysing the suitability of land for future housing, commercial, industrial and other purposes, 2) simple projections of future population and trends, as well as corresponding land use demands, 3) allocating the projected land use demands to the most suitable locations under various planning and infrastructure controls and growth functions. The AHDAP-What If? offers a user-friendly interface accompanied by clear guidance of the entire workflow to support strategic planning exercises. By providing accessible and comprehensible functionality, the What if? tool is set up to support collaborative planning involving a range of stakeholders, allowing their expertise and preferences to be converted into metrics which can be used to drive future urban growth scenarios for an urban settlement. For example, what if we explore a population growth of 50,000 per year for a city versus 100,000 per year for a city. Do we have available suitable land available to accommodate such growth? What if we restrict all future growth in areas which have experienced flooding or bushfires over the last 10 years. The AHDAP-What if? comes with a preloaded demo dataset for Ipswich City, in South East Queensland which can be explored alongside the user manual available below.