Nader Afzalan

Visiting Assistant Professor, Geodesign
Geographic Information Systems


Ph.D., Urban Planning, University of Colorado, Denver.


Lewis Hall
P: 909.748.8760

Nader Afzalan, Ph.D. is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Redlands, the Chair of the American Planning Association (APA)-Technology Division, and the Co-Chair of the APA- Smart Cities and Sustainability Taskforce.

As a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Redlands, his main responsibilities are to develop an interdisciplinary program on campus on the use of spatial analytics in planning and community development, teach courses, and advise students. He teaches courses on the following topical areas: Participatory planning and design, community development, Geo-design and planning support technologies, data-driven decision making, volunteered geographic information, and design thinking.

As the Chair of the APA-Technology Division, Nader leads the APA’s activities related to the use of new technologies in planning and urban resilience by providing educational resources and creating professional development opportunities for professional planners and designers.

With more than 16 years of urban planning and design experience, Nader’s research and professional work focuses on ways in which cities can and should function smarter using new technologies and data sources. As a researcher, technologist and entrepreneur, he guides planning organizations, universities, and technology companies in designing creative solutions to handle urban and regional planning issues by more effectively using web-based planning and design tools, GIS, and social media.

Prior to beginning his Ph.D. studies at the University of Colorado, Nader spent seven years working as a project director, urban planner and designer on projects focused on socio-economic revitalization of downtown areas, redevelopment of historical towns, and ecological planning. His collaborative approaches to land-use and environmental planning, civic technologies, and smart cities have been presented and published in the U.S. and internationally in the Middle East and Europe.


Recent publications:



Afzalan, N. & Sanchez, T. (2017). Testing the use of crowdsourced information: Case study of bike-share infrastructure planning in Cincinnati, Ohio. Urban Planning. (Forthcoming)

Schweitzer, L., Afzalan, N. (2017). 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0: Four Reasons Why AICP Needs an Open Data Ethic. Journal of American Planning Association, 83 (2), 1-7.

Afzalan, N., Sanchez, T., Evans-Cowley, J. (2017). Creating Smarter Cities: Considerations for Selecting Online Participatory Tools, Cities, 67, 21-30.

Piatkowski, D., Marshall, W. & Afzalan, N. (2016). Can Web-based Community Engagement Inform Equitable Planning Outcomes? A Case Study of Bikesharing. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 3, 1-14.

Afzalan, N. & Evans-Cowley, J. (2015). Planning and Social Media: Facebook for Planning at the Neighbourhood Scale, Planning Practice and Research, 30 (3), 270-285.

Afzalan, N., Evans-Cowley, J., & Mirzazad Barijough. M. (2015). From Big to Little Data for Natural Disaster Recovery: How Online and On-the-ground Activities are Connected, I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 11, 153-180.

Afzalan, N. & Muller, B. (2014). The Role of Social Media in Green Infrastructure Planning: A Case Study of Neighborhood Participation in Park Siting, Journal of Urban Technology, 21 (3), 1-17.

Evans-Cowley, J., Sanchez, T., Afzalan, N., Lizcano, A., Kenitzer, Z., & Evans, T. (2014). Learning about E-Planning: The Results of a Massive Open Online Course Experiment, International Journal of E-Planning Research, 3 (3), 53-76.


Sanchez, T. & Afzalan, N. (2017). Mapping the Knowledge Domain of Planning in Sanchez, Thomas W. (Ed.) Planning Knowledge and Research, New York, NY: Routledge. (Forthcoming)

Minner, J., Evans Cowley, J., Afzalan, N. (2017). Technological Aids for Planning Education. In Stiftel, B., Green, N. & French, S. (Eds.). Handbook of Planning Education. Taylor & Francis. (Forthcoming)

Estiri, H. & Afzalan, N. (2017). Towards Data-Driven Cities: Incorporating [Big] data into urban management. In Schintler, L. & Chen, Z. (Eds.) Big Data for Urban and Regional Science. Routledge.

Azizi, S., Afzalan, N., & Bagher, M. (2010). A Study of Cultural Landscape as a Potential for Sustainable Development of Local Scale: Garme Village Redevelopment. In German Commission by UNESCO, Brandenburg University of Technology at Cottbus, and UNESCO Chair in Heritage Studies (Eds.) World Heritage and Cultural Diversity (pp. 238-244). Germany: Deutsche Natioalbibliographie.


Afzalan, N. (2017). [Review of the Book Digital futures and the city of today: New technologies and physical spaces, by Caldwell, G. A., C. Smith, and E. Clift]. Journal of Planning Literature. DOI: 10.1177/0885412217693575.

Afzalan, N. (2013). [Review of the Book Planning with Complexity: An Introduction to Collaborative Rationality for Public Policy, by J. E. Innes and D. E. Booher]. Science and Public Policy40(6), 821-822.


Piatkowski, D., Marshall, W. & Afzalan, N. (2015). Does Crowdsourcing Community Input Lead to Equitable Transportation: The Application of Web-based Tools to Inform Bikeshare System Development. Proceedings from CNU 23: Meeting the Demand for Walkable Places, CNU, Dallas-Fort Worth.

Estiri, H., Lovins, T., Afzalan, N., Stephens (2015). Applying a Participatory Design Approach to Define Objectives and Properties of a “Data Profiling” Tool for Electronic Health Data. Proceedings from 2016 Joint Summits on Translational Science Proceedings.

Afzalan, N. (2014). Considerations for Using Big Data in Sustainable Plan-Making: Citizen Generated Data for Bike-share Planning. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Big data and Urban Informatics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago.

Evans-Cowley, J. & Afzalan, N. (2013). The Role of Online Neighborhood Groups in Creating Self-Organizing Resilient Communities. Proceedings from Using ICT, Social Media and Mobile Technologies to Foster Self-Organisation in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance, Delft University of Technology, Netherland: Delft.