iPlan Simulation Workshops

Introducing “iPlan Greater Madison,” the regional planning simulation game!

As you’ve heard from the Regional Planning Commission over the past year and a half, A Greater Madison Vision is a unique public-private effort to craft a new regional vision and plan for growth. A big part of this process is educating the public about the issues involved in regional planning, as well as hearing from the public about how to manage the trade-offs and competing interests that have a stake in how we grow and develop. To that end, A Greater Madison Vision is pleased to announce the official launch of “iPlan Greater Madison,” the regional planning simulation game!

Regional Planning Commission staff have been hard at work with the Epistemic Games Group at the UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research to develop this exciting and engaging tool. We will be using it at several workshops around the region in the coming months, and we hope you can join us!

The workshops are free, and light refreshments are provided! We invite you to contact us today to set up an iPlan workshop with your group.

This page will help you learn about what “iPlan Greater Madison” is, what it does, what coming to a workshop entails, what we all hope to learn from it, and when and where you can find a workshop near you!

What happens at an iPlan workshop?

The game puts players in the role of urban planners at the Regional Planning Commission. Players are tasked with creating a development plan for the region. Players work—first independently and then in groups—to develop a future land use map that:

  • Accommodates a projected population increase for the region;
  • Addresses a list of “Regional Challenges,” like providing a supply of diverse housing options, ensuring enough land for future development, and protecting environmental resources, AND;
  • Balances the desires of different groups who offer feedback on players’ maps.

Draft maps submitted by individuals and groups will show changes in indicators of economic and environmental health and quality of life, as well as whether or not they meet the needs of anticipated population growth. Maps will also receive feedback from fictional “stakeholders” interested in these issues, which can be used to inform revised map drafts. We will close each workshop with a group discussion about why people’s maps look like they do, what choices they made in their plans, how they were affected by feedback, and their approach to accommodating multiple competing interests and perspectives.

What is the game’s objective?

The game illustrates how value trade-offs are present in decisions about land use. The game emphasizes that the planning process requires compromises and balance.

It also teaches that developing a long range plan must be an iterative process in order to build strong consensus and to effectively meet the needs of everyone involved.

We hope that participants leave each workshop with increased knowledge of the issues involved in regional planning, an appreciation for various perspectives and interests, and and improved understanding of how the choices we make about growth and development affect people and communities throughout the region.

How does playing iPlan help plan the region’s future?

Attitudes, preferences, and strategies used by participants in the iPlan workshops will help us produce more detailed maps of the region (like these, from a scenario planning exercise in North Carolina) that can help the general public choose from among compelling alternative futures.

The workshop is designed to promote conversations among participants about the future of our region, development strategies that can be used, how to balance the needs of different interests, etc. The dialogue and data collected from game play provide our staff with input we will use to create draft development scenarios. Those regional scenarios will then be the subject of broader community input and will ultimately be the basis of a new regional plan. Participation in the workshops will give Regional Planning Commission staff valuable data about:

  • Who workshop participants were and how they approached the “Regional Challenges” presented by the game,
  • How participants altered their maps and why, AND
  • When assuming the role of a planner, how players sought to balance the needs of the different stakeholders and the “Regional Challenges” the stakeholders championed.

Who should play the game?

We are looking for participants who are available for a one- to two-hour workshop in communities around Dane County. Players can be middle school-aged and up. Ideally, players will be citizens enthusiastically involved in community affairs, members of municipal councils or committees, or staff and decision makers from private, non-profit, or public entities involved in fields like public health, social justice, community/economic development, housing, land development, or other similar fields. We also encourage interested members of the public to sign up!

How do I find or host an iPlan workshop?

If you are a member of a group, organization, public committee or board, or other existing body, we hope you can host an iPlan workshop with your group! Contact Capital Area RPC community planner Matt Covert (MattC@capitalarearpc.org or (608) 283-1265) to schedule an iPlan workshop. We are happy to set up a workshop at a location and time that works for you and other members of your group.

A Greater Madison Vision will provide up to 15 simple, easy-to-use “Chromebook” laptop computers on which to run the game!

We also hope to host drop-in iPlan sessions prior to official meetings of city, village, and town councils and commissions. If you would are a member of such a group and would like an opportunity to try a fun, facilitated community engagement event with your constituents, contact us! We would be happy to work with you. For upcoming locations and dates, please visit our online calendar.