SPARC is a cloud-served data transformation service that supports urban and regional scenario planning with INDEX Online.

Web-Based GIS Warehouse

Make your data widley accessible. No GIS software necessary, no ESRI fees.

Connecting with National Data

Leverage national datasets preloaded and assembled for your community.

Integrated Enterprise Technology

Reduce the size of large datasets with an intelligent geometer model.

Data Repair Wizard

Common data quality problems fixed automatically.

Integrate All Datasets

See datasets from multiple sources on one map.

Tool Interoperability

Migrate data to multiple tools using custom tool templates. Export data for desktop or access the SPARC API from other web tools.

INDEX Online

Real-time scenario design and indicator scoring without GIS technical skills.

Who Benefits?

The significance of SPARC lies in its common data schema and integrative functions that allow multiple organizations to efficiently use different datasets and a variety of tools for a single planning process.

Data Providers

Common publication platform

GIS Specialists

Automated data clean-up

Data transformation services

Tool Developers

Consolidate multiple jurisdictional datasets

Gather input data through custom tool templates

Project Managers

GIS ftp site with optional web viewer

Project coordination site


No GIS software necessary

Interactive scenario design

Leverage analysis tools cost-effectively


Access via web browser

Familiar Google Maps interface


SPARC is a cloud-based data transformation service available through custom instances that include:

Set Up & Hosting

Configured client instance, including national data and system integration testing, hosted on SPARC servers.


A two-hour webinar covering SPARC operations.

Data Services

Uploading, downloading, quality transformation, mapping.

Tool Templates

Data models for popular planning support tools and planning-relevant national datasets.

Technical Support

Email and phone support for users.

For uniquely challenging data situations, consulting assistance is also available on an hourly basis.


Scenario Design Example

Map Navigation Basics

SPARC Instances

Seven 50

Seven50: SE Florida Prosperity Plan

Project Website
Sustainable Places Project

Sustainable Places Project: Austin, TX

Project Website
Plan for Opportunity

Plan for Opportunity: Mississippi Gulf Coast

Project Website
 City of San Antonio

City of San Antonio Neighborhood Sustainability Study

Project Website
2040 Land-Use Scenarios

2040 Land-Use Scenarios: Lee County, Florida

Project Website


SPARC and INDEX Online are available as a subscription service where all you need is a web browser and Internet connection to tap its power. Forget the hassle of maintaining hardware and software by having an instance created and hosted for your next project. For those seeking an in-house solution, SPARC can also be deployed to in-house or hosted servers.

For pricing quotations, please contact with the following information:

And the GIS data to be stored and transformed in SPARC, including:


User Guide

Detailed information on SPARC components and functions.

Technical Specifications

In depth technical documentation, including the SPARC schema and requirements for users considering hosting their own SPARC instance.


SPARC is a service of Criterion Planners of Portland, OR. Established in 1979, the firm has developed a variety of planning support software since 1984, including its flagship tool INDEX. The genesis for SPARC lies in years of Criterion experience managing data for multi-party, multi-tool planning projects. Insights gained through these real-world processes have given Criterion a deep understanding of practitioner needs, and underpins the tool’s innovative features. The SPARC team at Criterion includes:

Thom York Eliot Allen

Thom York

Senior Project Manager

Thom is the designer of SPARC and leads Criterion’s work on open source planning tools. Since joining the firm in 2003, he has helped metropolitan planning organizations and local agencies across the country model the sustainability of alternative growth visions and land-use and transportation plans. Thom is a specialist in the assessment of location efficiency and the simulation of multi-modal transportation networks. His LEED-ND Connections Tool is considered to be one of the most rigorous evaluation devices for walking, biking, and connectivity in the U.S. He is a co-recipient of the American Planning Association’s Best Use of Technology Award for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Renewal Forum, and an active member of the Open Source Planning Tools Group.

Eliot Allen


Eliot is an urban and regional planner who founded Criterion and has since created plans for vibrant and resilient places throughout North America, ranging from Atlanta’s award-winning regional land-use vision to Vancouver BC’s innovative climate protection strategy. He oversees Criterion’s professional services and manages SPARC marketing and user relations. Eliot was a charter member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is a former chair of the Portland Sustainability Commission. He is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Location & Planning Technical Advisory Group, LEED Faculty for Neighborhood Development, and an advisor to the Remaking Cities Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. Eliot is a co-recipient of EPA's Climate Protection Award for the Chula Vista CO2 Reduction Plan, and the CNU Charter Award for the SmartCode.


If you have questions or would like to schedule a webinar to see how your project or daily workflow can benefit from SPARC, please email us at