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The Electronic Crystal Ball

Myriad Web pages offer demographic, economic, environmental and census data that provide a glimpse of the future of Los Angeles.


The Internet and the World Wide Web offer both new opportunities and challenges for learning about Los Angeles and its future.

The advantages of existing Web sites are already clear. As other sites are more fully developed, with more information, better graphics and additional bells and whistles, these resources will become even more useful.

Some Web pages provide basic demographic information, while others help the earnest student of Los Angeles peer into the crystal ball.

At the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which approaches the future of Los Angeles from a regional standpoint, executives are excited about the benefits of providing electronically accessible information.

"With the Information Age that is coming upon everyone . . . [the association] could become an information and communication center for government agencies and the public," said Executive Director Mark Pisano.

The association and its member agencies, which include 186 cities and six counties covering 16 million people, have developed demographic, economic, environmental and census data that is used in planning and analysis for the region.

"It enables us to understand what the growth in the region is and what future growth may be," Pisano said.

Although much of the raw data is available only to members, there is still quite a bit of information accessible to the public on the association's Web site.

"We are using this [data] for updating the region's transportation plan. The preliminary regional transportation plan is on the Web site," Pisano said.

Numerous other Web sites also offer a glimpse of the Next L.A.

Southern California Studies Center:

The Southern California Studies Center, known as SC2, was established at USC in 1995. Using Los Angeles as a laboratory, the center studies regional and sociological changes. Although the site is still in the early stages of development, access to the recently published Atlas of Southern California and other interdisciplinary data on Southern California are forthcoming.

UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research:

This site has links to the seven research centers of the school, including the Center for Communication Policy, which examines issues of emerging information technology and the ramifications for the community. The Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies emphasizes Southern California issues. The Lewis Center page offers abstracts of policy papers developed by the center and an urban demographic study of Los Angeles. An affiliated site, Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles (, examines Los Angeles at the grass-roots neighborhood level.

Southern California Assn. of Governments:

The site offers access to the agency's publications and calendar of events as well as lists of member agencies and their elected representatives. Of interest to Southern California residents is the preliminary regional transportation plan, a blueprint of the areawide transportation future. A link to Southern California Rideshare is an interactive resource for commuters.

Getty Information Institute:

More commonly associated with things ancient, the Getty Information Institute is also concerned with making art and culture more accessible through the use of computer networks such as the Internet. The site has links to information presented at the institute-sponsored "Museums and the Web" conference, other projects and publications. A pilot project of the institute linked here, LA Culture Net ( provides access to arts and cultural information from local artists and communities.

The Center for the Study of Los Angeles:

Established in 1996, Loyola Marymount University's Center for the Study of Los Angeles includes the papers of former state Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti and other prominent Southern Californians. An index to the papers is available at the site. Planned for inclusion are the papers of former state Assemblyman Mike Roos and Mayor Richard Riordan. The site is being developed, with plans for an urban futures program that will examine current and future trends of Los Angeles and the Pacific region and inclusion of the center's Los Angeles Area Leadership Survey results and data.

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