CommunityViz - Visualization and Analysis Software for Planners


CommunityViz is advanced yet easy-to-use GIS software designed to help people visualize, analyze and communicate about important land-use decisions.  Operating as an extension to ESRI's ArcGIS platform, CommunityViz offers:

  • Easy-to-use tools for creating realistic 3D visual models of your world as it is, and as it could be
  • Interactive features for analyzing choices about development, growth and change over the years to come.
  • Myriad ways to make and share decisions about geography and the future of your community, your land and your world.

What Is It?

Conceptual modeling tool

Modeling and analysis tool

  • Tools to develop model
  • Geographic Information System (GIS)
  • Socioeconomic model
  • Other modeling and analysis tool

Visualization tool (for data and scenarios)

Decision support tool

  • Conservation and restoration site selection tool
  • Coastal zone management tool
  • Coastal and watershed land use planning tool


  • GIS based, GIS platform: ESRI ArcMap (ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo) 9.x 

  • Tool has a GUI available

  • Tool accounts for and reports uncertainty

  • Tool handles socio-economic impacts

  • Flexible; can be used at many different levels, from fill-in-the-blank wizards to detailed scientific models.

  • Data requirements for getting started are minimal.

  • User can make changes to maps, data, and models on the fly and see how changes affect the analysis.

  • User-friendly format provides excellent communication tools, making it easy to present data clearly.

  • Commercial-quality, well-supported application with a wide user base

  • Interfaces well with other tools and models (e.g. NatureServe Vista)

  • Can serve as a framework for a collection of models

  • Visualization capabilities: SiteBuilder 3D, a component of CommunityViz, can create photo-realistic 3D visualizations from two-dimensional maps.


  • Desktop-based

  • Limited web capabilities (web output in the form of reports)

  • Constraints for running the tool- Depends on the data available to your project.

Expertise Needed

Equipment needs: ESRI ArcMap (ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo) 9.x; Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP; RAM: 512 MB; Processor: 750 MHZ; Hard Disk Space: 1 GB; 3-button mouse; Open GL-based; 32 MB graphics card

Resource Requirements: Dependent on knowledge of ArcView and project.

Technical Expertise: Given intermediate GIS skills, most people can get started in two days, and continue to learn more over time.

Scientific Expertise: None unless required by the needs of a particular project.

Types of Data Needed

Types of data input needed to use tool: Dependent on project.

Input formats: GIS data (raster, vector, networks), tabular numeric, and others

Types of output data from tool: 3D scenes (in ArcScene, Google Earth, or SiteBuilder 3D, a component of CommunityViz), analysis maps and reports, charts, graphs, WebShots, interactive scenarios

Output formats: GIS, HTML, KMZ, and others

How Do I Get It?


Demo Website:

Tool cost: 

  • Professional: $750, includes a year of full-service technical support, with access to free upgrades as new versions are released. 
  • Self-Service: $279, provides access to web-based support.

Related Tools

Google Earth, SketchUp and ArcScene (all optional - can be used to make and view 3D scenes)

Contact Information

Developer: Placeways, LLC

Contact: Doug Walker


Phone: (866) 953-1400

Address: 1722 14th Street, Suite 150, Boulder, Colorado 80302


Technical support: Web-based support (help files, forums, knowledge base) for all users. Full-service technical support is available as a premium service. Placeways offers consulting services and maintains a list of authorized CommunityViz consultants. Classroom training, custom training, and individualized web-based tutoring sessions are available.

Projects that have used this tool: CommunityViz has thousands of customers in over 40 countries. Common types of projects include land preservation and conservation, coastal land use planning, socioeconomic impact assessment, buildout, site suitability analysis, and public participation.