What is the Best Urban Planning Software to Use Today?

Urban planning and design apps are used to plan for the layouts and modeling of urban environments. City planners use these apps to conceptualize how urban areas would look like in the rear world. The apps allow them to factor in all primary concepts, including roads, parks, and paths, among others, to make their cities functional and healthy. Let’s put it this way: every well-planned city is the result of a long urban planning process. 

To plan a city appropriately, you need to have the right software for urban design. So, which one do you select? Keep reading as we reveal the best programs that architects use to plan their urban areas. 


SketchUp is like a staple in architecture and building design. The program is liked by urban planners because it comes with advanced tools that help them to quickly and accurately visualize different facilities. Planners consider it an important toolbox because it allows them to do so much from one point. You can import 2D CAD files, DEM data, and 3D models and use them as the starting point for your planning project. 

Although SketchUp was sold to Trimble by Google, it works efficiently with Google Maps. This allows you to use the geo-location tool to capture the different terrain imagery as it is. Once you have captured the terrain, you can go ahead and work on it, modifying different parts with draping the landscape and contour lines with only a few clicks. Other features that make SketchUp stand out include: 

  • 3D visualizations. 
  • Animated walkthroughs. 
  • A large library of objects. 
  • Model viewing. 


First launched in 1996, GIMP (acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program) has undergone multiple revisions to reach the latest 2.10 version. It works pretty much like Adobe Photoshop, and many urban planners with a background in graphics can easily learn how to use it. 

The most notable feature of GIMP is the editor that comes with an array of quality functions for fine-tuning images or creating new ones from scratch. You can use an array of customizable brushes and filters to create different effects that you want for the town plans. 

We must also indicate that it is an open-source program with a large development community. Therefore, you can expect the main features of the application and security to improve over time. 

City Engine 

City Engine is a high-performance urban planning program whose popularity is growing rapidly. It was developed by Esri for businesses in entertainment, architecture, simulation, and urban planning. It empowers users to create 3D models of their buildings and urban spaces. 

The app is GIS data-driven, which means that you can develop 3D scenes using GIS data. It simplifies the process of generating 3D content by combining different attributes, procedural rules, and 2D data. The result is an awesome urban environment with an interactive network of streets. What is more impressive is that these layouts can be updated easily. 

Other features of City Engine that you need to know about include a robust library of objects that helps to cut down the overall time required to finish any urban design and python scripting interface. Façade texturing, KLM support, and parametric city design tools also make the app stand out from the pack.

The process of urban planning can be pretty complex because it requires the architects and city planners to factor in a lot of things. From the local city administration rules to population dynamics, you must be alive to the current and emerging needs of the urban environment. The building design software options we have listed above are the best you can get on the market. You might also want to consider Revit, Google Earth, and Inkscape