In this article, I will describe a API for the geodesign workflow, the goals and the recent progresses we have made at Geodesign Hub to achieve this.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
In most creative and professional fields, this quote is relevent. I have come across many professionals whose thinking is shaped by the tools being used. In some cases, the tool and its capabilities guides the solution. But how would design and planning look like if it were agnostic to the tools being used? What sort of level of abstractions would such a design process require?
Geodesign is a process of design. I have written earlier about the differences between geodesign and “traditional” design. I built Geodesign Hub and it represents this new class of software that works quite differently from existing planning support tools. Prof. Uri Avin of the National Center for Smarth Growth describes this quite nicely in the following diagram, the right most diagram is how Geodesign Hub works.
Therefore, Geodesign Hub is essentially a workflow that enables interoperability between different models and tools seamlessly while enabling the core task of collaborative design.
This software model assumes different systems working independently of each other without a requirement or necessity to have a particular specialized software installed. Given the interdisciplinary nature of geodesign, this inclusive structure works better and enables tools and people from industries and domains that you would not traditionally associate with design and planning to participate as a equal citizen in the process of design. It works well with free or paid, old or new, simple or complex, properitary or open source software.
The Goal of Geodesign API
I have had a number of discussions with Dr. Stephen Ervin about the goal of a geodesign API. Dr. Ervin is one of pioneers in the field of geodesign and has been actively involved in the development of theoritical foundations of the discipline. The outcome of our discussions can be summarized by the following:
“The goal of a Geodesign API is to develop a extensible specification and format for describing GEODESIGN MODEL(s) – algorithmic processes that take one or maps as input and produce output in some specified format (one or map(s), number(s), data structure(s), etc.), to be incorporated within geodesign processes.“
This is quite amibitious but it also encapsulates the challenge in planning and design: the ability to describe the world from vastly different lenses in a way that other people can understand and make decisions. By using the lanugage of datastructures, maps and numbers we are ensuring broad inclusivity and agnostic to the tools where this data is created. When I set about building Geodesign Hub API, this was the goal.
The API documentation can be accessed at: https://www.geodesignhub.com/api/
The API fairly simple and straightforward structure and it enables you to take out all data and also submit data in the form of maps and numbers. They There are four main APIs:
- Projects API: Geodesign Hub works of geodesign projects, all aspects of projects can be queried using this API.
- Systems API: A project has a number of systems, these can be simple things like, hydrology, transport, housing etc. but also can be compound such has green infrastructure
- Diagrams API: Diagrams are ideas for improving the systems, this API enables you to query and add diagrams.
- Change Teams API: Once diagrams are created, they are then synthesized to create designs by teams of people. All aspects of the designs, and negotiations can be queried through this API.
And thats it!
What can be built using this API?
There are many things that can be built using a API like this:
- A tool to visualize diagrams in 3D
- A tool to take data and export as KML, DXF, Shapefiles and WFS
- A landuse allocation model
- A tool to dissect the Geodesign process to visualize the process of design.
A full list of growing plugins is here: https://www.geodesignhub.com/plugins/
All of existing models and tools should have no problems in interacting with the design process. All are welcome as equals to the design process.
In addition, in the next few months, I am focusing on building a new Financial Analysis plugin for geodesign and also pushing the envelope to link deep learning and other modern Artificial Intelligence technologies to the problem of design.
Want to learn more?
We host regular webinars and tutorials about this API, please feel free to drop me a email to pre-book a place in the next one in the next month.