The Online WhatIf tool


The Online WhatIf? planning support system (PSS) is a collaborative planning tool. The tool is an online version of the desktop WhatIf? 2.0 planning support system that has been used by over 150 users in 22 countries.

Online WhatIf? requires a user account; please fill in this form to sign up. Once your account is created, you will receive an email with a password and instructions for logging in. If you are interested in discussing project opportunities with us, how we can assist with data preparation and training or you would like to discuss a research collaboration opportunity, please email us.

Once you have an account, you can sign in to Online WhatIf? here.

The Online WhatIf? code has been released as an open-source project, accessible through these links:

Full user documentation can be found at

Project Overview

The first application of the Online WhatIf? PSS has been developed and tested in the context of the Perth to Peel Region in Western Australia. The AURIN team have worked with the Department of Planning in Western Australia in data preparation and in the formulation of a series of planning scenarios which align with the Perth to Peel Region – Directions 2031 Metropolitan Plan. The Online WhatIf? PSS tool has been designed to assist other cities and regions across Australia in understanding land use supply, demand and likely future land use change scenarios.

There is clearly a need for generic tools to support strategic planning of urban growth occurring in the major cities and regional centres across Australia. Such generic tools are often referred to as planning support systems (PSS), and can be used to inform strategic planners on the impact of population growth and other socio-economic factors on the future of Australian cities. These PSS required a number of GIS data inputs to which the AURIN project is facilitating access, including:

  • land parcel boundaries
  • land uses
  • building footprints
  • demographic and economic trends, and so on.

These inputs are also required to determine the suitability of land for accommodating future development – another important consideration for strategic planners in local authorities and state government agencies throughout Australia.

Project Output

  • An online open source version of the current WhatIf? PSS to be accessible via the AURIN Workbench
  • An innovative demonstrator application of WhatIf? for strategic planning in Western Australia
  • User manual and training of the WhatIf? AURIN tool for planners and policy-makers.

Project Team Overview

Chris Pettit_webProf Christopher Pettit
Associate Director, City Futures Research Centre
Project Leader, AURIN
The University of New South Wales
Dick ClostermanProf Dick Klosterman
Project Consultant
WhatIf? Corporation
Marco Nino Ruiz_webMarcos Nino-Ruiz
Technical Development
The University of Melbourne
Patrizia Russo
PhD Researcher
Architecture, Building and Planning
The University of Melbourne
Robert HuttonRobert Hutton
Systems Administrator
The University of Melbourne
Alireza Shamakhy
Software Engineer
The University of Melbourne
ClaudiaClaudia Pelizaro
GIS/Urban Data Analyst
The University of Melbourne

Project partners

WhatIf logo


  • Pettit, CJ, Klosterman, RE, Delaney, P, Whitehead, AL, Kujala, H, Bromage, A, Nino-Ruiz, M 2015 The Online WhatIf? Planning Support System: A Land Suitability Application in Western Australia, Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy. Vol 8, Issue 2, pp 93-112
  • Klosterman, RE 1999, ‘The WhatIf? Collaborative Planning Support System’, Environment and Planning, B: Planning and Design, no. 26, pp. 393-408
  • Pettit, CJ 2005, ‘Use of a collaborative GIS-based planning support system to assist in formulating a sustainable-development scenario for Hervey Bay, Australia’, Environment and Planning, B: Planning and Design, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 523-546
  • Pettit, CJ, Klosterman, RE, Nino-Ruiz, M, Widjaja, I, Tomko, M, Sinnott, R, Stimson, R 2013, ‘The Online WhatIf? Planning Support System’, in Planning Support Systems for Sustainable Urban Development, eds S Geertman & J Stillwell, Springer, Berlin, pp 349-362.


Download the PDF WhatIf? Factsheet here.