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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Microcomputer communications & planning Harrington, Daniel James


Contemporary planning literature is comprised of many different sub-sections, including one that considers the application of computer technology. Within this sub-section, topics such as expert systems, geographic information systems and database management have all been covered. One subject yet to be addressed however, is microcomputer communications, an industry which is growing rapidly. The purpose of this thesis is to conduct an initial exploration and description of microcomputer communications within a planning context. Following a definition of the subject, a terminology review and a historical perspective, the paper addresses the basic considerations for using the technology. The paper then moves to a synopsis of products and services available in the online industry. A discussion on professional use follows with medicine, education, law and civil engineering highlighted. A review of MC's existing place in the planning profession is offered. The paper then ends by summarizing the research process and findings. The methodology for this paper evolved as a result of a lack of traditional planning sources. Therefore, the paper relies on collateral references and hands-on experimentation to introduce MC technology and to discuss it from a planning perspective. It is interesting to speculate how MC could most benefit planning, such as the establishment of a national online data service featuring a library for document storage, e-mail for communication and online conferences for current issues. Despite this speculation, the primary conclusion to be drawn from this paper is that to effectively incorporate MC into a planning application, planners must be familiar with the technology and its inherent strengths and weaknesses.

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