How might new virtual pathways be leveraged to reimagine how analysis and public comment is integrated to make environmental determinations?

The Opportunity:  As a Coro Fellow placed at the Southern California Association of Governments, I surveyed best practices and reimagined how the organization might better comment on projects as part of the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).  It struck me as profoundly odd that agencies would shuffle thick stacks of project documentation back and forth when the actual original content consisted of a few sentences of comment. Why not just have a gchat conversation? And with that sort of common sense interagency coordination, why not put the focus at the locus of environmental impact – an air basin, a watershed, or another logical region?  Or looking beyond these agencies to the public more broadly, why not integrate a platform like Quora to organically mediate the sharing of tribal knowledge to garner a more effective regional perspective?  

The Challenge: Articulate what this technological potential means for how we make environmental determinations.

Consider how a Quora-like platform might be used to create a living repository of technical information updated throughout the process and pathways for public comment.  Or think through how an “interactive roadmap” for quick summary visualizations highlighting where the project is in the evaluation process and what key questions remain.  Rather than explain how such a virtually powered process fits within the current CEQA regulatory guidelines, articulate how such a procedure would provide a deeper coherence to the original statute.

Bonus Points for explaining how nascent augmented reality technologies might be used to creatively display the impacts of potential developments.

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