INDEX PlanBuilder Planning Support Software

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Developer(s) Criterion Planners, Inc.
Stable release
9.3 / May 2011
Operating system Windows
Type ArcGIS extension
License Proprietary

INDEX is an integrated suite of interactive GIS planning support tools for:

  • Assessing community conditions.
  • Designing future scenarios in real-time.
  • Measuring scenarios with performance indicators.
  • Ranking scenarios by goal achievement.
  • Monitoring implementation of adopted plans.

The tool is an ArcMap extension provided by Criterion Planners of Portland Oregon to support urban and regional scenario planning, with an emphasis on measuring the sustainability of scenarios to find the most robust preferred alternative. INDEX can be purchased in standard or custom versions by organizations that desire their own copy of the software, or modeling services are provided by Criterion when analysis, but not software, is desired.


Introduced in 1994, INDEX is now supporting a wide variety of planning processes across the U.S., with over 175 organizations in 35 states equipped with the software, and another 500 applications by Criterion in a consulting capacity.

INDEX is designed to support the entire process of community planning and development. Applications usually begin with benchmark measurements of existing conditions to identify problems and opportunities that merit attention in plans. The tool is then used to design and visualize alternative planning scenarios, analyze and score their performance, and compare and rank alternatives based on goal achievement. Once plans are adopted, INDEX supports implementation by evaluating the consistency of development proposals against plan goals. Over time, achievements can be periodically measured with progress reports.

At the heart of INDEX are indicators that stakeholders select to measure conditions and gauge change. INDEX PlanBuilder comes with a comprehensive set of 90 indicators that address land-use, urban design, transportation and the environment. Custom versions of INDEX have indicators specially designed for local issues.


INDEX received ESRI’s Special GIS Achievement Award in 2004 for its support of the NE Illinois Regional Growth Framework Plan process, including over 200 public “paint the town” digital charrettes [1]. In 2006, INDEX was recognized for its post-Katrina redevelopment scenario support by the American Planning Association, and again by the APA in 2007 for its pedestrian environment modeling in the Sacramento Pedestrian Master Plan.


  • INDEX: Designing a Cool Spot Neighborhood/Elburn Illinois, in Urban Planning Tools for Climate Change Mitigation, Patrick Condon et al. editors, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2009.
  • Clicking Toward Better Outcomes: Experience with INDEX, 1994-2006, in Planning Support Systems for Cities and Regions, Richard Brail, editor, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, October 2008.[2]
  • Community Sustainability Indicators, in Planning Support Systems: Integrating Geographic Information Systems, Models, and Visualization Tools; Richard Brail, editor; Rutgers University Center for Urban Policy Research and ESRI Press, June 2001.