Plan in a Box


Date Awarded
Grant Period
09/01/13 to 09/01/14
Focus Area
Media Innovation
Knight News Challenge

Project Links

Grantee Contact

  • New York, NY

Featured Media

Making it easier to discover information about local planning projects, by creating a tool that governments and contractors can use to easily create websites with updates that also allow public input into the process

Local planning decisions can shape everything about a community - from how residents get around, to how they interact with their neighbors and experience daily life. Yet information on projects - from new plans for downtown centers to bridge replacements - is often difficult to obtain. This project will be an open-source web-publishing tool that makes it easy to engage people in the planning process.   With minimal effort, city employees will be able to create and maintain a useful website that provides information that citizens and journalists need while integrating with social media and allowing for public input.

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Project Team

Frank Hebbert


Frank HebbertFrank Hebbert leads the software team at OpenPlans. Outside of work, he volunteers with Planning Corps, a network of planners providing assistance to non-profit and community groups. Hebbert holds a master’s degree in city planning from MIT.

Aaron OgleAaron Ogle is an OpenPlans software developer. Prior to OpenPlans, he was a fellow at Code for America where he partnered with the City of Philadelphia to build solutions to help foster civic engagement. He specializes in JavaScript and GIS development and has contributed to such applications as,,, and

Andy CochranAndy Cochran, creative director, provides design vision for OpenPlans’ projects, building user interfaces for tools that enable people to be better informed and stay engaged in local issues. Cochran has a bachelor’s degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and he has over a decade of experience in print and web design.

Ellen McDermottEllen McDermott leads OpenPlans’ outreach to community organizations and cities, to help them be effective in using digital and in-person engagement tools. She also manages operations for OpenPlans. Previously, McDermott was the director of finance and administration for Honeybee Robotics, a technology supplier to the NASA Mars programs. She is a graduate of Amherst College and King’s College London.

Mjumbe PoeMjumbe Poe is a software developer for OpenPlans. Previously, Poe was a fellow at Code for America, and before that a research programmer at the University of Pennsylvania working on modeling and simulation tools for the social sciences.

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