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Supporting Shrinkage: Better Planning and Decision-Making for Legacy Cities
  • Michael P Johnson, Jr.
  • Justin B Hollander, Tufts University
  • Eliza W Kinsey, Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health
  • George Chichirau, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Charla Burnett, University of Massachusetts Boston
Planning and policy design for shrinking and distressed regions is challenging. Traditionally, planners use
a variety of tools and incentives to encourage land uses that accommodate changes in populations,
infrastructure and activities to maximize quality of life and social and environmental sustainability.
These are generally designed for growing cities and politically and socially active communities. Since
many regions face significant disparities in social supports, financial resources and quality of life, use of
these tools is thus problematic.

Information technology and the Internet have transformed the production of goods and services. The
‘big data’, ‘smart cities’ and ‘e-government’ movements make it possible for cities to provide more,
higher-quality and more-responsive services to residents, for companies to provide customized and
lower-cost products to customers, and for residents to engage with other residents, social institutions
and companies in ways unimaginable just twenty years ago. These benefits are not distributed equally
across communities, however.

In an era of ever-cheaper, more-mobile and more responsive technologies, residents in traditionally
underserved and distressed communities continue to lack avenues to social and economic progress and
seek an active voice in determining the future of their neighborhoods, especially through new and
nontraditional land uses. Structural barriers to opportunity, across education, transportation, housing,
employment and social supports constitute special challenges to community stabilization and

In this book, we describe a new approach to citizen-engaged, community-focused planning methods and
technologies for cities and regions facing decline, disinvestment, shrinkage and social and physical
distress. We explore a wide range of approaches, such as collaborative planning, social media, civic
technology, game design, analytics, decision modeling and decision support and spatial analysis, with a
focus on issues of social justice, democratization of knowledge and local empowerment.

This book is currently under review at SUNY Press. The document available for download is a summary of the manuscript, followed by Chapter 1 of the manuscript, titled "Planning, Technology and Shrinking Cities".
  • shrinking cities,
  • public participatory GIS,
  • big data,
  • smart cities,
  • management science
Publication Date
August 9, 2019
Under review at SUNY Press
Citation Information
Michael P Johnson, Justin B Hollander, Eliza W Kinsey, George Chichirau, et al.. Supporting Shrinkage: Better Planning and Decision-Making for Legacy Cities. (2019)
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