Scenario 360

About Scenario 360™

CommunityViz Scenario 360: analyze, visualize, and engage

Scenario 360 logo

CommunityViz Scenario 360 is GIS-based decision support software for regional and local planners. It is an ArcGIS® extension that adds interactive analysis tools and a decision-making framework to the ArcGIS platform. Scenario 360 helps you view, analyze and understand land-use alternatives and impacts.

Scenario 360 Graphic with callout for different features

With Scenario 360 you can:

  • Easily sketch and experiment with hypothetical scenarios
  • Assess economic, environmental, social, and visual considerations
  • Make and change assumptions on the fly
  • View impacts of proposed changes
  • Make comprehensive, informed decisions
  • Connect to your choice of 3D visualization tools

Scenario 360 is a powerful, easy-to-use tool that makes the land-use planning process more visual, more collaborative and more effective. Some of the key features include:

  • Sketch tools and Land-Use Designer let you “paint” land use types on a map and instantly see associated socioeconomic and environmental impacts. Use pre-defined land-use models or create your own.
  • Build-Out Wizard calculates the development capacity of your land: numerically, spatially, and in 3D visuals. And the available Allocator lets you project how that capacity will be used.
  • Suitability automatically rates different locations according to weightable factors you set.
  • TimeScope™ lets you look at changes year by year simply by moving a slider bar.
  • View multiple scenarios side-by-side in one analysis.
  • Easily create web-ready illustrations of your analyses for viewing interactively in 2D or in 3D through Google Earth.
  • Dynamic charts, alerts, and other displays update in real time as you explore alternatives.
  • Use 360 Indicators Wizard to generate up to 101 Indicators related to land use, housing, demographics, transportation, environment, and more

analyze visualize engage

Visit the tabs in this section to learn more about applications, decision tools, and how Scenario 360 helps you as a planner to analyze, visualize, and engage.

Click here to see the Scenario 360 Factsheet

Scenario 360 is a component of CommunityViz 5.x.


Common Uses of Scenario 360

Scenario 360 is a powerful, easy-to-use tool that makes the land-use planning process more visual, more collaborative, and more effective.

      • Comprehensive planning
      • Regional transportation planning
      • Site selection and evaluation
      • Build-out analysis
      • Development proposal analysis
      • Public participation and engagement
      • Cost estimating
      • Visual impact analysis
      • Environmental impact analysis
      • Forest management planning
      • Natural hazard risk assessment (fire, flood, etc.)
      • Habitat fragmentation evaluation
      • Water quality management

Integration with ArcGIS

Scenario 360 runs as an extension to ArcGIS Desktop and integrates smoothly with the rest of ArcGIS.

Scenario 360 is a desktop application. If you have the Network Analyst or Spatial Analyst extensions, Scenario 360 can use them for network-based or raster-based formula functions. If you have the 3D Analyst extension, Scenario 360 can be run as an extension to ArcScene.

Scenario 360 takes advantage of the powerful capabilities of ArcGIS so it can use almost any data that ArcGIS can.

ArcGIS Desktop


CommunityViz Scenario 360 provides a unique and powerful framework for planning analysis.

Real-Time Modeling
Scenario 360 dynamic analysis lets you ask “what-if…?” questions about alternative planning strategies and future events, then get answers in real-time as you experiment and discuss.

Dynamic Analysis Engine™
The unique Scenario 360 Dynamic Analysis Engine lets you do geospatial modeling of the effects of any potential plan. Study housing, transportation, environment, economics, sustainability, and much more. Choose from more than 100 built-in indicator models, or customize and create your own.

Coworkers collaborating in an office

Dynamic Analysis and Modeling

Get the information you need, when you need it

Scenario 360’s powerful, versatile, and unique Dynamic Analysis Engine is perfect for planning decisions

dynamic analysis chart

Good planning decisions are based on good models: How much will this planning approach cost? What will it do to water quality? How much housing will it provide?

With Scenario 360, you get immediate answers to those kinds of questions. It’s done with formula-based calculations running in an open modeling environment. Scenario 360 models are:

  • Dynamic – you get constant updates as you experiment with scenarios or plans
  • Transparent – anyone can view, edit, or share the formula logic
  • Open – share inputs and outputs with external models like Excel spreadsheets or travel demand models (TDMs)
  • Spatial – distances, overlaps, “nearest,” and all kinds of place-related calculations
  • Versatile – use built-in planning models, or write your own using a library of over 90 formula functions, with no software programming required

Thinking of a particular planning application, like build-out, suitability assessment, or impact analysis? Scenario 360 also has a collection of easy-to-use Decision Tools (also known as planning apps) to speed you along.

Scenario Analysis

Understand your choices

Scenario 360 allows you to create, analyze, and work with multiple alternatives for the future of a place—all in real time.

s360 Analyze 2 screen

Scenarios are an effective method for making informed planning decisions. Before you write a plan or start implementation, you consider several alternatives—called scenarios—and study the pros and cons of each. From there, you can refine your ideas to choose the best course of action.

Dynamic analysis lets you work with scenarios in real time.

Ask “what-if…?” questions about alternative planning strategies or uncertain future events. Try adding infrastructure or changing zoning, and see what happens. This iterative process, sometimes called geodesign, is perfect for early planning discussions and group meetings.

Scenario 360 provides a powerful array of tools for creating scenarios:

  • Freehand sketch directly on the map
  • Paint existing parcels or other features with potential new land uses, zoning, place types, and more: premade or create your own
  • Clone building models or other features to create proposals at the site scale
  • Vary assumptions about modeling inputs between scenarios with easy-to-use slider bar controls
  • Calculate build-out potential with an advanced, wizard-based tool
  • Apply computer-driven allocation algorithms to generate rule-based growth patterns

Analyzing and comparing scenarios is taken care of for you:

  • One Scenario 360 project (“analysis”) handles many scenarios at once
  • Models are automatically applied to all scenarios, unless you want to make scenario-specific changes
  • Side-by-side maps, charts, and results tables make it easy to compare


3D Visualization Preview

3D Visualization

Scenario 360 allows you to connect to 3D visualization tools, giving you new ways to see your community as it is or as it could be.

  • Scenario 3D, included for free as part of your CommunityViz package, provides high-performance 3D and comes with our unique 3D Model Library and our exclusive Sharable 3D Scenes. Sharable 3D scenes are free, fully “flyable” copies of your 3D scene that friends and colleagues can explore using our free Scenario 3D Viewer.
  • Scenario 360 also works within ArcScene, a component of the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension (sold separately). Used together, Scenario 360 and ArcScene provide an integrated, immersive 3D environment for performing analysis and making geographic decisions.
  • And for viewing your analysis in its global 3D context, Scenario 360 can export your scenarios, layers, charts, extruded buildings, and Google SketchUp® objects into .kmz format for immediate viewing in Google Earth™ or ArcGIS Explorer.
Employment Allocation by District Chart

Dynamic Charts

Scenario 360 includes special charts that provide dynamically updated visual displays of information you want to know.

You can set up the charts to display a single variable, multiple variables, multiple scenarios, and previous values. Curious about where the information is coming from? Click right on the chart to see the data and assumptions behind it. You can also embed charts right on your map using the Chart Elements feature.


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  • Coworkers collaborating in an office

    Presentation Tools

    Scenario 360 is at home in your office, your committee room, and your auditorium

    The clear, colorful visuals make excellent presentations, and added tools like the Saved Views feature, Symbology Saver, full-screen charts, and Scenario Comparison window give a presenter extra confidence, speed, and visual clarity for speaking to large audiences.

  • Woman pointing at screen on a computer

    Easy to Understand

    CommunityViz is made to help people understand the sometimes complex considerations that affect geographic decisions

    Scenario 360 is carefully designed to be as easy on the outside as it is powerful on the inside. For example, analysis functions are displayed separately from set-up functions, making it easier for non-technical audiences to focus on decision-making concepts without getting lost in details. Yet the analysis is still transparent: it is a simple matter to look up the formulas and assumption behind any result, and to change them if desired.

  • WebShots screen

    Web-Ready Reports and Presentations

    Scenario 360 reporting capabilities include a Reports Wizard that helps you create clear, comprehensive reports that provide data, images, and explanations about your analysis. Reports are in HTML format that is ready to be posted to a project website or simply viewed on your own computer.

    CommunityViz WebShots let you post partly interactive web presentations that let your viewers explore your analysis or view it as a slide show you create.

  • Publisher screen

    Analysis Publisher

    The Analysis Publisher creates freely sharable, read-only versions of your Scenario 360 analysis.

    You can share your work with clients, members of the public, or anyone else you like, whether or not they have CommunityViz or ArcGIS. To create sharable analyses, the ArcGIS Publisher extension (standard with ArcInfo) is required. To view analyses, ESRI’s free ArcReader is required. Published Analyses are the ideal companion to Sharable 3D Scenes and they provide more robust map navigation and data than WebShots.

Decision Tools

Decision tools help you accomplish common planning tasks like build-out and suitability analysis.

The 360 Indicators Wizard is meant to give you a comprehensive, well rounded set of standard planning measurements (indicators) related to your study area. The actual number of indicators generated will depend on your settings, but 101 are potentially available. Topic areas cover land use, demographics, transportation, recreation, environment, housing, and employment.

360 Indicators chart

Common Impacts Wizard automatically creates GIS-based impact analyses commonly associated with growth and development. You can instantly start to see some of the most commonly used indicators of economic, environmental, and social outcomes associated with alternative growth scenarios. The analyses created include everything you need: formulas, indicators, charts, reports, and variable assumptions with default values to serve as a starting point.

Here are the impacts the wizard can potentially create, depending on the information you provide, and the impacts you ask for:

  • Auto emission
  • Commercial energy use
  • Commercial floor area
  • Commercial jobs
  • Commercial jobs-to-housing ratio
  • Commercial tax revenue
  • Distance to places of interest
  • Residential water use
  • Labor force
  • Population
  • Residential dwelling units
  • Residential energy use
  • Residential tax revenue
  • School kids
  • Sensitive lands impacts
  • Vehicle trips per day

Common Impacts Wizard window

The Custom Impacts Wizard sets up analysis models for impacts that are important to you but that are not covered in the Common Impacts Wizard or elsewhere. You specify the type of analysis you want – counts, sums, classifications – and the parameters you want to use. The wizard takes it from there, setting up the formulas, attributes, indicators, assumptions and charts you can use to see how your impact is affected by potential decisions you might make. The impact models supported by the Custom Impacts Wizards cover some of the most commonly used simple structures. For example, you can:

Custom Impacts Wizard window

  • Count features based on their location, such as counting all the trees in a park or counting all the septic tanks near a river
  • Count items in features, such as counting all the chimneys in a group of houses
  • Add amounts per feature attribute, such as amount of water needed to irrigate a polygon layer representing farm fields
  • Classify and count features based on one of their existing attribute values, such as calculating how many roads are local, collector, and arterial, respectively
  • Classify and count features based on their proximity to other features, such as counting how many septic tanks are near each of four rivers

Land-Use Designer allows you to study the impacts of alternate land-use plans with just a few clicks of the mouse. A special dialog helps you choose pre-defined or custom land-use models. Once they have been created, land-use models provide an easy way to create land-use scenarios and impact analyses simply by sketching on the map. Each model specifies the name and particular characteristics of a given land use, such as building density and resource utilization rates. When you apply a land use to a feature on the map, the feature takes on all the specified characteristics, and corresponding impacts are calculated automatically.

Land Use screen

Optimizer helps you choose the best combination of features to satisfy certain goals, such as which parcels to conserve given a finite conservation budget. Its advanced, super-fast Modified Simplex Method algorithm allows you to work with large numbers of features in short times, even on an ordinary desktop computer. (This premium feature is available only with CommunityViz Professional licenses.)

Optimizer window

Suitability Wizard lets you create site suitability or desirability analyses via an easy-to-use, step-by-step wizard. Just specify the factors you want to consider – like proximity to roads and overlap with floodplains, for example – and the wizard sets up a complete analysis for you. Once the analysis has been created, you can color code your map according to which sites are most suitable, and you can dynamically change the weighting of each factor and see the results.

Suitability screen

Allocator Wizard helps determine where growth is most likely to occur over time. It uses the classic supply-and-demand approach, allocating new growth to available building locations sequentially over time, using either strict-order or probability-based models. (This premium feature is available only with CommunityViz Professional licenses.)

s360 Allocator window

Allocator 5 is a sophisticated land-use allocation modelling (LUAM) tool for regional planners that models patterns of spatial growth over time. (This premium feature is available only with CommunityViz Professional licenses.)

a5 map

Build-Out Wizard performs all the work necessary for a build-out analysis, which shows the “capacity” of your land based on all the commercial and/or residential building allowed by current land-use regulations. This very popular CommunityViz feature supports numeric, spatial, and even 3D visual build-out analysis, and it works with everything from a simple land-use map to complex zoning codes – include as much or as little data as you want.

Scenario 360 Buildout screen

TimeScope™ lets you look at incremental changes year-by-year. Buildings and roads appear on the landscape; infrastructure capacity fills up; land-uses change; and impacts update – all according to rules and assumptions you set. Results can even be used with the Timeline in Google™ Earth.

Timescope screen