Data Jammin' at the 2017 Tech Zone

What do a data jam, virtual reality, pens that can write in three dimensions, and a sandbox have in common? The 2017 APA Tech Zone, of course!

Back for the third year in a row, the Tech Zone will be a main attraction at the APA 2017 National Planning Conference in New York City, May 6–9. The Tech Zone is supported in part through an educational partnership with Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet company.

In addition to presenting a number of exciting sessions on the Tech Zone Presentation Stage, Sidewalk Labs will be featuring Rohit Aggarwala, their co-head of labs, in a special plenary taking place directly after the opening keynote address. Aggarwala will be addressing how technology can change the content of city planning — how the availability of data and digital tools allow for new ways to design and manage urban spaces.

Excited? We haven't even scratched the surface yet! Check out some of the highlights below.

3D Pens

A 2016 attendee uses a 3D pen to create a bridge structure. Photo by Joe Szurszewski.

Let your inner Frank Gehry loose and take home a souvenir when you create your own 3D masterpiece.

Startup Station — New for 2017

Check out the offerings of six of the hottest new tech companies working in the civic and urban planning field.

Host Compliance


Kim Lundgren Associates

Cityscape VR



APA's SimSandbox Returns

Conference attendees play in the SimSandbox at a National Planning Conference. Photo by Joe Szurszewski.

Be a kid again and play in our sandbox. As a bonus, you will be able to impress even the nerdiest of your friends when you tell them that you have conducted landscape-scale experiments using a real-time augmented reality simulator.

University Village — New for 2017

Colin Brooks of Michigan Tech Research Institute talks with attendees about drone use in planning in the Tech Zone at NPC16. Photo by Joe Szurszewski.

What planning technology research is happening in the academic world? Come see for yourself and meet the two programs that won APA's new Academic Tech Innovators Grant.

Data Jam

In partnership with Beta NYC and the New York City Department of City Planning, APA is hosting a Data Jam. The primary focus of the Jam will be to cleanup and enhance the datasets behind the new Facilities Explorer platform developed by the Department. This event will run 9:00–3:00 pm on Monday, May 8, in the Tech Zone.

Presentation Stage

Steve Burrows of WSP gives a presentation on APA's Tech Zone stage at NPC16. Photo by Joe Szurszewski.

Come hear about the latest and greatest technology in the planning field. These 30 minute presentations will open your mind to new possibilities for more effective and efficient planning operations. You will also learn about what technology is on the planning horizon. Many sessions offer CM.


Try your hand building your own subway line in this interactive game hosted on a large touchscreen display. Transit planners — it's time to show off your skills.


Immerse yourself in virtual flood environments. Become a decision maker tasked with assessing damage and enacting a flood mitigation plan. Experience this interactive new tool and learn how to use it to engage, educate, and generate actionable responses from community leaders and residents.

OnBase by Hyland

OnBase is a single enterprise information platform for managing content, processes and cases. OnBase has transformed thousands of organizations worldwide by empowering them to become more agile, efficient and effective.


Isovist is at the forefront in the development of on-line tools aimed at making complex planning processes simpler to navigate, operate and to understand.


Harmari Tools, developed by LTAS Technologies, analyzes online classifieds, e-commerce and social media sites to identify pages suspected of fraud or criminal activity. Harmari Tools can be used in investigating auto theft, auto fraud, and curbstoning, criminal investigations, insurance fraud, tax scofflaws, and unlicensed businesses. Short Term Rental Compliance with Taxcrawler, helps with identifying and monitoring properties for lodging tax collection, licensing and code compliance.


CivicXpress (CX) is an eGovernment platform designed to automate planning, permitting, inspections and code enforcement for municipalities.

Top image: Returning to the Tech Zone this year: the popular SimSandbox. Photo by Joe Szurszewski.

About the Author
Ben Leitschuh is APA's education associate.

April 19, 2017

By Ben Leitschuh