Paul Cote

Paul Cote teaches geographic information systems and three-dimensional representation at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His research is concerned with systems for cultivating better understanding of places by synthesizing information from diverse sources. His career in cartographic technology spans from land surveying and the engraving of maps to the development of networks that link information resources across the communities of science, administration, planning, and design.

After earning the Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Paul became Geographic Information Systems Specialist at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) in 1993. He joined the faculty of Design in 1995 with an appointment as lecturer in Urban Planning and Design until 2012. As GIS Specialist, Paul has developed a spatial data infrastructure that captures the information products of studios and research projects. This infrastructure includes detailed data for hundreds of cities including detailed 3D models of the Boston metropolitan region and the five boroughs of New York City. As lecturer, Paul has been responsible for teaching the GSD’s courses in GIS and site modeling since 1995. He has led several seminars on 3D city modeling. He has been a regular collaborator in studios in the Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. His web-based curriculum in GIS and Topographic Modeling has been a top hit in Google’s search engine for the search term “GIS Manual” for many years. In 2008 Paul was voted Best Teacher by the Urban Planning master’s degree candidates at the GSD.

A pioneer in the application of enterprise information architecture for the development of broad-scale three dimensional models of cities, Paul was chosen to be the Architect of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Interoperability Testbed for integration of CAD, GIS and BIM through Web Services in 2007. The OGC’s Technical Report on Web Architecture for CAD GIS and BIM, which he edited, is considered one of the seminal documents in this field. Paul has co-authored a book chapter and magazine article and lectured on this topic at universities and conferences across the United States and Europe, including the keynote presentation at the European Union’s Cooperation in Science and Technology summit in Liege, Belgium in 2009. As Principal of the Planetable Technology Company, Paul worked with the faculty of Ulster University to develop an interactive virtual urban design laboratory of the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland. This work was featured in his article in the May 2009 issue of GeoWorld Magazine.

Paul frequently collaborates with library projects at Harvard, and is beginning the fourth year of collaboration to build an information infrastructure for Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks property in Washington DC. Paul also serves on several committees and boards, including: the Editorial Board for the Journal of Urban and Regional Information Systems, and the Harvard University Research Computing Council; the standing committee of the Harvard Geospatial Library; the Technical Committee of the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis; and the Board of Review for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Collection at the Boston Public Library.

Closer to home, Paul is active in his neighborhood planning group in the rapidly-developing neighborhood of East Cambridge. Having served as Vice president and board member of the East Cambridge Planning Team, he has developed several web-based applications for community participation in planning. He represented East Cambridge in the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Community Review of the Green Line Extension, and the City of Cambridge’s negotiations concerning a two million square foot development in Kendall Square.