I am really curious to see how many planners out there REALLY use GIS. I went to school at West Chester University of PA (which is like the GIS capital of the East Coast) and got a Geography degree with a dual emphasis on GIS and Planning.
All that was drummed into my head for the 4 (and 1/2 *cough* *cough*) years that I was there was that we need to know this, this is the wave of the future, etc. etc. Fast FWD 6 years later into the real world and I have yet to see GIS applications used to their potential in the planning field. I read all the ESRI publications every month, and none of the articles ever feature anything about planning, per se. GIS is being used by big business, environmentalists, emergency services, etc. etc. for analysis.
In the planning field we use GIS to make maps. We make damn cool looking zoning maps, and land use plans, and at my old job we even used it to make those big presentation checks. But that is it.
So why do we stress the need for planning students to know GIS? Why do all our job postings say "GIS experience preferred".
We as planners deall mostly with future developments, which are all drawn in AutoCAD. Why aren't we teaching CAD in school. When redesigning a plan, making comments on a development, etc., wouldn't it be nice if the planning agency got a digital copy of the plans and the planner reviewing it actually knew how to manipulate the drawing and add his/her insight that way??
OK I'm done ranting. As you can tell, I am a big fan of AutoCAD since being exposed to it at my current job. Only took me 3 months to learn it, and it is 100x better than any GIS product I ever used (but then I never used any GIS software to do REAL GIS). I guess I am just mad that I wasn't offered classes in CAD when I was in school.
So how do you feel about your department's GIS program, or lack thereof.