Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Joseph M. Prochaska

Committee Members

George E. Bauer, Robert L. Miles


The availability of computers at the local level of government has been steadily increasing. With this increase, planners are in a unique position to utilize computer capabilities to assist in the full range of planning activities. The problem to date seems to be one of a lack of understanding as to what computer applications are being used and how these applications can be useful to planners. This research is, therefore, oriented towards presenting an overview of computer applications used in planning agencies. Attempts are made to show how these applications are used and how they relate to planning needs.

An extensive literature search and review provided much of the pertinent information relating to computer applications. For specific information on Knoxville's computer applications, interviews were conducted with Metropolitan Planning Commission staff members and with representatives of the Department of Information Systems. The computer applications reported in the literature and the extent of computer utilization in Knoxville reported in the interviews were then compared.

While computer utilization has been increasing since the late 1950's, the applications currently utilized represent the automation of routine, repetitive, mechanical tasks such as utility billing, budgeting, accounting, or payroll. Knoxville fits into this characterization of computer utilization, although Knoxville began using the computer relatively late for a community of its population. Computer applications have been expected to increase in areas of particular interest and importance to planning, however, the increases have not been as rapid or comprehensive as anticipated by some. Information systems and data base development holds interest for planners and other governmental officials, as do modeling techniques, computer mapping and graphics, and simulation. A paradox is evident here in that such systems are highly desirable, but the actual resources needed to begin planning and implementation have not been forthcoming. While computers do have a place in planning activities, there is no danger of complete computerization of planning operations. Planners are not the ultimate decision makers so until local officials are convinced that the high investment and long range commitment necessary to develop a system of planning related computer applications are worthwhile, applications are likely to continue on a piecemeal basis especially in Knoxville.

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