Map-Based Surveys Valuable for Engaging with the Public in Urban Planning, New Study Finds

Map-Based Surveys Valuable for Engaging with the Public in Urban Planning, New Study Finds

Map-based survey solutions, like Maptionnaire, enable the gathering of geographic information that is based on the experiences and perceptions of inhabitants. The collection of this local knowledge has become popular in master planning and detailed planning, as well as increasingly in the planning of transportation, landscapes and natural resources.

The Old Barracks of Blankefelde-Mahlow Are Being Reinvented by a Multidimensional Participatory Process

The Old Barracks of Blankefelde-Mahlow Are Being Reinvented by a Multidimensional Participatory Process

Resident input is a key aspect of brownfield development. Many former industrial sites and logistic hubs sit unused inside neighborhoods and offer great opportunities for neighborhood improvement with socially conscious projects.

The landscape architecture company gruppe F used Maptionnaire in their project for developing a concept for the reuse of a former barracks area in Blankefelde-Mahlow in the greater Berlin area.

Tutkimus avaa karttapohjaisten osallistumismenetelmien roolia nykypäivän suunnittelussa

Artikkeli on alun perin julkaistu Maankäyttö-lehdessä (3/2018).

Karttapohjaisilla osallistumismenetelmillä tarkoitetaan verkkopohjaisia kyselyitä, joiden avulla kansalaiset voivat merkitä omia ideoitaan, kokemuksiaan ja mielipiteitään digitaalisesti suoraan kartalle. Näiden osallistumismenetelmien käyttöä ja vaikuttavuutta on kartoitettu Suomen ympäristökeskuksen ja Mapita Oy:n yhteistyönä osana CORE-hanketta, joka keskittyy yhteistoiminnalliseen ympäristön käytön hallintaan (www.collaboration.fi). Tutkimus perustui maankäytön ja suunnittelun asiantuntijoille suunnattuun verkkokyselyyn sekä kyselyn tuloksia syventävään viiteen tutkimushaastatteluun. Kysely oli avoinna 5.4.–26.4.2018 ja keräsi 80 vastaajaa. Verkkokyselyllä pyrittiin selvittämään kyseisen osallistumismenetelmän käytön taustoja ja kokemuksia menetelmän hyödyllisyydestä, haasteista ja vaikuttavuudesta. Tutkimushaastattelujen kohteiksi valittiin erikokoisia loppuvaiheessa olevia tai päättyneitä suunnitteluhankkeita, joissa on hyödynnetty karttapohjaisia osallistumismenetelmiä. Haastateltaviksi hankkeiksi valikoitui Helsingin yleiskaava 2050, Helsingin yleiskaavan varjokaava Pro Helsinki 2.0, Mikkelin kantakaupungin osayleiskaava 2040, Rovaniemen ja Itä-Lapin maakuntakaava ja Salpausselän Teivaan hotellin asemakaava.

Karttapohjaisten osallistumismenetelmien avulla voidaan tuottaa uutta tietoa, joka perustuu kansalaisten kokemuksiin ja näkemyksiin. Tällaista paikkaan sidottua tietoa on viime aikoina hyödynnetty etenkin yleis- ja asemakaavoituksessa ja yhä enemmän myös liikenne-, viheralue- ja luonnonvarojen käytön suunnittelussa.
Lämpökartta Helsingin yleiskaavan varjokaavan karttakyselyn “tästä kohdasta suunnitelmassa pidän” -vastauksista (Maptionnaire).

Lämpökartta Helsingin yleiskaavan varjokaavan karttakyselyn “tästä kohdasta suunnitelmassa pidän” -vastauksista (Maptionnaire).

Karttakyselyt osana osallistumismenetelmiä

Verkkokyselyn perusteella karttakyselyiden asema suhteessa muihin osallistumisen ja vuorovaikutuksen menetelmiin näyttää vahvalta: karttakyselyt valittiin yhdeksi käytetyimmistä menetelmistä työpajojen, asukastilaisuuksien, sosiaalisen median ja tavallisten kyselyiden ohella. Vastaajien kokemukset karttakyselyistä olivat pääsääntöisesti myönteisiä. Valtaosa vastaajista oli täysin (42 %) tai jokseenkin samaa mieltä (46 %) siitä, että karttakyselyistä oli hyötyä suunnittelutyössä. Vastaavasti 82 % vastaajista koki, että karttakyselyillä kerätty aineisto oli hyödyllistä. Myönteisten kokemuksien vuoksi valtaosa vastaajista suunnitteli käyttävänsä karttatyökaluja myös tulevaisuudessa, joko harkiten valikoiduissa projekteissa (65 %) tai mahdollisimman laaja-alaisesti useissa hankkeissa (33 %).

Avovastauksissa karttakyselytyökaluja pidettiin pääasiassa muita menetelmiä täydentävänä keinona, jonka ei ainakaan vielä nähty täysin korvaavan perinteisiä osallistumismenetelmiä. Syinä tähän nähtiin osallistujien rajallinen tekninen osaaminen ja mahdollisuudet hyödyntää tietotekniikkaa. Noin puolet vastaajista keräsi osallistujilta palautetta työkalun käytöstä ja palaute on ollut pääasiassa myönteistä; karttakyselytyökalua pidettiin mielenkiintoisena ja hauskana tapana osallistua. Osa vastaajista on kuitenkin kokenut teknisiä haasteita ja epäillyt vastaamisen vaikuttavuutta.

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Ratkaisuja vuorovaikutuksen ja osallistumisen ongelmiin

Yleisesti suurimmiksi osallistumis- ja vuorovaikutushankkeisiin liittyviksi haasteiksi vastaajat nostivat esille osallistujien alhaisen lukumäärän, näiden taustojen yksipuolisuuden ja vahvojen, negatiivisten mielipiteiden korostumisen keskustelussa. Karttakyselytyökalut koettiin hyödyllisiksi näissä tilanteissa, koska laajemman ja taustoiltaan monipuolisemman osallistujajoukon tavoittaminen on helpompaa verkossa. Lisäksi karttakyselyiden visuaalisuus ja helppous houkuttelee myös tyytyväisiä kaupunkilaisia jakamaan mielipiteitään. Esimerkiksi Salpausselän Teivaan alueelle suunniteltu kylpylähotelli oli herättänyt paljon negatiivista huomiota ja kaavatyön lopettamisesta keskusteltiin. Karttakyselyn tulokset kuitenkin yllättivät päättäjät; kyselyyn vastanneista suurin osa suhtautui asemakaavaan positiivisesti, vaikka yleisötilaisuuksissa tunnelma oli ollut päinvastainen. Vastaavasti Helsingin kaupunkibulevardien kannatus yllätti kaupunkisuunnittelijat.

Karttakysely itsessään ei ratkaise konfliktitilanteita mutta niiden avulla voidaan saada laajempi kuva kansalaisten näkemyksistä. Toisin kuin usein yleisötilaisuuksissa, karttakyselyiden avulla tavoitetaan rakentamishankkeiden vastustajien lisäksi myös kaupunkialueiden kehittämisestä kiinnostuneita asukkaita. Myös alueellisesti laajoissa hankkeissa, kuten yleiskaavoituksessa, karttakyselyt koettiin hyödyllisiksi, koska kommentit voitiin vaivattomammin kohdentaa oikeaan paikkaan. Yksi osallistumis- ja vuorovaikutushankkeiden haaste oli myös tiedotus; sekä sisäinen että ulkoinen viestintä koettiin ongelmalliseksi. Karttakyselyjen koettiin parantavan suunnittelijoiden ja osallistujien välistä tiedonkulkua, koska osallisia oli helppo pitää mukana koko hankkeen ajan karttakyselyn ja nettisivujen avulla.

Perinteiset osallistumis- ja vuorovaikutusmenetelmät ovat haasteellisia ja aikaa vieviä, mutta karttakyselytkään eivät ole täysin ongelmattomia. Kyselyyn vastanneet nimesivät suurimmiksi karttakyselyiden käyttöön liittyviksi haasteiksi tekniset ongelmat sekä aineiston analysoinnin ja kyselystä tiedottamisen. Tekniset ongelmat olivat useimmiten laitteisiin ja nettiyhteyteen liittyviä, mutta myös osallisten tekniset valmiudet olivat paikoin rajallisia. Myös karttakyselyn laatijalla saattoi olla teknisiä ongelmia kyselyn luomisvaiheessa. Analyysivaiheen työläys yllätti monet vastaajat ja useat painottivat, että aineiston analysointia pitää suunnitella jo etukäteen ja siihen pitää varata resursseja ja osaamista. Erityisesti avovastausten ja yksityiskohtaisia paikkamerkintöjä koskevien kommenttien läpikäynnin mainittiin vaativan paljon resursseja. Kyselyn markkinointi monen kanavan kautta nähtiin myös tärkeänä. Mikäli kyselyä ei mainostettu tarpeeksi, vastaajamäärät saattoivat jäädä alhaisiksi.

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Uudenlaista tietoa ja vahvempaa vuorovaikutusta

Valtaosa kyselyyn vastanneista ja haastatteluihin osallistuneista koki karttakyselytyökaluilla kerätyn aineiston hyödylliseksi. Karttakyselyillä haluttiin tavoittaa enemmän ihmisiä ja saada myös hiljaisempien ihmisryhmien, kuten nuorten aikuisten, mielipiteet kuuluviin. Vastaajien mukaan kyselyt ovatkin keränneet enemmän vastauksia kuin muut osallistumismenetelmät ja etenkin nuoremmat ikäluokat ovat osallistuneet karttakyselyiden kautta. Vaikka karttakyselyiden vastauksissa tuli ilmi paljon samoja asioita kuin muiden osallistumismenetelmien kautta, myös eroja oli havaittavissa. Paljon vastauksia keränneet alueet olivat jo usein julkisen keskustelun aiheena ja siten suunnittelijoiden tiedossa. Karttakyselyiden avulla saatiin kuitenkin uutta tietoa myös muista asukkaille tärkeistä alueista, joiden kehittämiseen esitettiin hyvin perusteltuja ehdotuksia.

Karttakyselyiden visuaalisuus ja helppous houkuttelee myös tyytyväisiä kaupunkilaisia jakamaan mielipiteitään.
Karttakysely itsessään ei ratkaise konfliktitilanteita, mutta niiden avulla voidaan saada laajempi kuva kansalaisten näkemyksistä.

Vaikuttamisen mahdollisuudet ja haasteet

Valtaosa kyselyyn vastanneista katsoi, että karttakyselyillä kerätty tieto auttaa ymmärtämään osallisten tarpeita ja näkemyksiä sekä voi vaikuttaa suunnitelmien sisältöön. Tutkimushaastatteluiden perusteella vaikuttavuuden nähtiin olevan sitä parempaa, mitä aikaisemmassa vaiheessa suunnitteluprosessia tietoa kerätään. Vaikka varhainen vaihe koettiin hedelmällisimmäksi ajaksi osallistua, luonnoksen tai ehdotuksen kommentoinnin uskottiin olevan osallistujille helpompaa ja vastausten sisällön parempaa. Yksi suurimmista haasteista olikin olennaisten vastausten puute. Kansalaisten ymmärrys kaavaprojekteista on usein puutteellista ja tämän vuoksi karttakyselyiden kautta saadut vastaukset olivat joko liian pikkutarkkoja tai ympäripyöreitä. Vastaavat kommunikaatio-ongelmat voivat heikentää kansalaisten luottamusta päättäjiin ja kaavaprosessiin, kun yksityiskohtaiset ehdotukset eivät toteudu strategista suunnittelua varten tehdyn kyselyn kautta.

Haastatellut kertoivat myös onnistumisista. Hyvin perustellut ja kaavan kannalta olennaiset vastaukset oli usein otettu mahdollisuuksien mukaan huomioon kaavaratkaisuissa. Helsingin yleiskaavan karttakyselyssä nousi esille joitakin viheralueita Vantaanjoen rannalta, jotka asukkaat kokivat tärkeiksi. Osa näistä alueista jätettiin tämän seurauksena yleiskaavassa vihreiksi. Myös oikeanlaisella kysymyksenasettelulla saatiin selville yllättäviäkin asioita. Mikkelin kantakaupungin osayleiskaavan kyselyssä asukkaat saivat rajata kartalle alueen, jonka he kokevat keskustaksi. Suunnittelijoille tuli yllätyksenä, kuinka suureksi asukkaat keskustan käsittivät. Tämän havainnon seurauksena keskustan aluetta laajennettiin myös tulevassa kaavassa.

Kyselyyn vastanneet kertoivat, että kerättyä tietoa on hyödynnetty mahdollisuuksien mukaan suoraan suunnitelmissa joko tekemällä muutoksia aineiston pohjalta tai poimimalla mahdollisuuksien mukaan aineistosta ajatuksia kaavoitukseen. Aineisto on voinut toimia lähtökohtana suunnittelulle ja sitä on käytetty hyödyksi myös kaavantyöhön liittyvissä työpajoissa. Aineistoa on myös ollut mahdollista käyttää hyödyksi muissa hankkeissa. Monet vastaajista kokivat karttakyselyillä kerätyn aineiston tärkeäksi, koska se nosti esille uusia kehitettäviä kohteita ja antoi tukea jo aiemmin tärkeiksi tunnistetuille asioille. Kaavasisältöön vaikuttamisen lisäksi vastauksissa mainittiin, että karttakyselyiden tuloksia on aktiivisesti tuotu esille ja aineistoa jopa julkaistu avoimena datana.

Karttapiirroksien tuottama hyöty riippuu myös suuresti suunnittelijoiden tavoitteista. Rovaniemen ja Itä-Lapin maakuntakaavan muistutusten yhteydessä jätettyjä karttapiirroksia ei juuri käsitelty muistutuksia läpikäydessä. Karttapiirrokset koettiin hyödyllisiksi lähinnä vastaajille, jotka pystyivät halutessaan hahmottelemaan ideansa kartalle. Mikkelissä taas saatiin sellaista uutta tietoa, joka ei olisi ollut mahdollista ilman kyselyn karttaominaisuutta. Karttakyselyiden lisäksi nykypäivän suunnittelussa hyödynnetään kuitenkin myös muita osallistumismenetelmiä, jotka tulee huomioida vaikuttavuutta arvioitaessa. Haastateltavat totesivat, että juuri karttakyselystä saadulla tiedolla ei usein ollut muita osallistumismenetelmiä suurempaa tai pienempää vaikutusta lopulliseen kaavaan. Kyselyt toivat kuitenkin uusia aiheita päättäjien tietoon ja yhdessä muiden osallistumismenetelmien kanssa ne voivat vaikuttaa vahvemmin kaavasuunnitteluun.

Karttapohjainen osallistuminen olennainen osa tulevaisuuden suunnittelua

Karttapohjaisten osallistumismenetelmien suosio on kasvanut viimeisen vuosikymmenen aikana. Tulevaisuuden suunnittelussa tullaan todennäköisesti yhä enemmän painottamaan digitaalisuutta ja sen tarjoamat mahdollisuudet tekevät myös osallistumisen helpommaksi. Karttapohjaiset osallistumismenetelmät tarjoavat suunnittelijoille keinon saada runsaasti paikkaan sidottua tietoa asukkaiden arvostuksista ja huolen aiheista. Ne myös kannustavat matalan kynnyksen osallistumista ja laajentavat osallisten joukkoa. Vaikka karttakyselyt eivät voi vielä korvata perinteisiä osallistumismenetelmiä suunnitteluprosesseissa, ne täydentävät toisiaan ja mahdollistavat aktiivisemman osallistumisen ja tietyillä edellytyksillä myös suuremman vaikuttavuuden. Vaikuttavuutta edistää karttakyselyn ajoittaminen suunnitteluprosessin alkuun sekä parempi tiedottaminen tulevan kaavan mittakaavasta ja kohdealueista. Vaikka myöhäisemmässä vaiheessa tehty kysely tuottaa joskus laadukkaampia vastauksia, suunnitteluprosessi on jo usein niin pitkällä, että vastauksien huomioiminen kaavassa on haastavaa. Myös dialogielementtien sisällyttäminen karttatyökaluihin voi lisätä osapuolten ymmärrystä suunnittelun kohteena olevasta hankkeesta ja siihen liittyvistä näkemyksistä.

Kirjoittajat Liina Marttila ja Kirsi Forss

Liina Marttila työskentelee harjoittelijana Suomen ympäristökeskuksessa ja on suunnitellut ja toteuttanut tutkimushaastatteluja artikkelin tutkimushankkeessa. Sähköposti liina.marttila@ymparisto.fi.

Kirsi Forss työskentelee paikkatietoasiantuntijana Mapita Oy:ssä ja on ollut vastuussa artikkelin verkkokyselystä sekä mukana tutkimushaastattelujen suunnittelussa ja toteutuksessa. Sähköposti kirsi@maptionnaire.com.

Helsinki National Urban Park

The Wisdom of the Crowd as a Mediator: Citizens’ Collective Insight Unites Activists and Planners in the Shaping of Helsinki’s National Urban Park

Have you ever thought of urban green areas or recreational areas as reservoirs for the components that make up a city’s identity: its most remarkable cultural and ecological values? This is the idea of the emerging ‘national urban park’ concept that has been gaining ground around Finland and around the world from the beginning of the 21st century.

A recent discussion has been whether one should be established in Helsinki. But it’s not an easy one. This is because where cultural and natural interests meet, big feelings and pain points are often present. National urban parks make no exception. With this background in mind, the city of Helsinki wanted to create a new kind of process that would bring different stakeholders and park users closer together. We were included in the process as online engagement consultants, which provided us a chance to learn how the strong inclusion of residents can shape the planning of a national urban park.

What is a national urban park?

There is no solid agreement about the definition of a ‘national urban park’, but there are examples of projects that define themselves as national urban parks or national city parks. Common characteristics for these parks include a central location and the aim to bring up the most remarkable cultural and ecological values of the city. They function much like national parks with goals to preserve the environment and to educate visitors. The difference is that in national urban parks the built environment plays an essential role as well.

In many cities the idea of establishing a national urban park originates from the will to protect urban nature from urban development. This was the case also with the world’s first national urban park, the Royal National City Park of Stockholm. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) of Sweden had a significant role in outlining an idea to join up three separate parks into a bigger “Ekoparken”, which then formed the basis of founding the national city park and giving it legal protection.

Following the example of Sweden, nine Finnish cities have established national urban parks. The Finnish national urban park concept is defined by a set of criteria written into the Land Use and Building Act. The legislative frameworks have not, however, removed the original tension between ‘nature’ and ‘town’. The discussion around the establishment of national urban parks often seems to be characterized by a debate between the city’s building pressures and leaving the green network untouched. And on top of the difficult land-use questions within the city, the national urban park status would add regulations governed by the central government into the mix of things local governments need to deal with. This is fruitful soil for heated discussions.

Getting people involved in shaping a park for Helsinki

The idea of founding a national urban park in Helsinki was brought up to the city council by the citizen group National Urban Park in Helsinki. The idea had been brought up by different actors also before, but in autumn 2017 the city started investigating its potential. This was done in demanding times. Helsinki’s new city plan had earlier marked slices of popular green areas as possible building sites, creating concerns over their fate among citizens. Acknowledging this background, the city wanted to collaborate with the activists of the park group and asked them to join the planning of the participation process.

We were hired as consultants to sit down with Helsinki’s planners and the park advocates to facilitate them co-create a map-based survey. It would be used to ask all Helsinkiers what they think Helsinki’s possible national urban park should look like and what it should include. The brainstorming resulted in placing the main focus of the survey in having people map places that they perceive to exemplify Helsinki, where they go to experience nature, and where they perform activities. It was seen important to get this kind of information from citizens because the planners already had a lot of hard data about the remarkable historical and environmental sites in the city.

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The survey data reveals key ingredients for moving the park project forward

After its launch, more than 1000 respondents made use of the survey to share their insights about how a national urban park should look like in Helsinki. When analyzing the results for the planners, we found that Helsinkiers’ responses, before anything else, pointed to a great love for the sea and urban forests. People also concentrated on identifying places that are special on a specific time of the year: the best spots to observe the stormy sea, autumn colors or the most beautiful spring flowers.

In the survey, people had also been asked to draw their favorite routes and to give a rough idea about the possible borders of the park. Especially the latter exercise, we discovered, provided a high-quality data set and it has been useful further down the planning process.

The future borders of Helsinki’s national urban park as perceived by residents.

The future borders of Helsinki’s national urban park as perceived by residents.

Going through people’s comments, we noted that the tone in the responses was mainly positive, but some people were also a bit worried. The main concern was that should the future park be too small and scattered, its function as a recreational area would be endangered. Most respondents were, however, looking forward to the benefits of getting better signage, unobscured passages in the urban forests, and giving the natural and cultural jewels of Helsinki the glory they deserve.

As the biggest opportunity of the national urban park I see the story of Helsinki and recognizing the identity of Helsinki, as well as preserving the culture-historically and environmentally remarkable areas and informing the citizens and tourists better about them.
— Survey respondent

Now that a large crowd has had the opportunity to participate in the project and more trust between the city and concerned residents has been built, could it be possible to define the borders and content for Helsinki’s national urban park that everyone is happy with?

There is certain controversy attached to the national urban park project, so it was good that there was a third party involved in the process. Also the workshop that gathered together the stakeholders and participants of the project was very useful – we were able to compile questions for the questionnaire that everyone agreed were good, and this way the credibility of this project was perceived to be higher.
— Juha-Pekka Turunen, Participation Coordinator, City of Helsinki

As the process continues, we’ll remain curious to follow how the possible national urban park will tell the story of Helsinki.

Maptionnaire Student Ambassador Program

The enthusiasm students from all over the world express when they discover Maptionnaire and apply it to their projects brings a lot of joy to us working with Maptionnaire. Although we’ve continuously connected with students interested in PPGIS and learned a lot from their projects, the interaction has been rather informal. Now we are turning a new page. We’ve launched the Maptionnaire Student Ambassador program with the objective of providing a more sustainable channel for interacting with the PPGIS student community and connecting them with the experts in the field.

What is the Maptionnaire Student Ambassador program?

The Maptionnaire Ambassador program is an exclusive opportunity for university students to have access to professional development in the field of Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) and network with experts. Each attendee will have the chance to learn about experiences and best practices in PPGIS, and, ultimately, apply their knowledge and skills to benefit their own communities. The Ambassador Program is our initiative to bring together like-minded students to collaborate in solving societal challenges with the help of participatory mapping.

How does it work?

The program is a platform for sharing knowledge and developing professionally in the fields of public participation, GIS Science, and urban planning. The program will consist of three main elements: working online, sharing knowledge locally, and working together in Helsinki. The Ambassadors will be engaged with periodical online webinars supported by an external network of experts, organizing small-scale events at their university, and be invited to a workshop and global PPGIS conference in Helsinki. In addition and if applicable, all Ambassadors will have the opportunity to use Maptionnaire in their own research or similar participatory mapping project.

The program will begin in January 2019 with 12 master’s and PhD students from 12 European universities.

Program’s timeline

Program’s timeline

The benefits of joining the program:

  • Exclusive lectures and support by PPGIS experts

  • Access to a network of professionals and students

  • Invitation to a workshop held in Helsinki (more information on this later) and to attend the largest PPGIS conference in the world in June 2019 in Helsinki

  • The opportunity to use Maptionnaire for own projects, e.g. thesis research

  • The possibility to start an internship with Maptionnaire at the end of the program

What is expected from the Ambassadors?

  • Participation in regular online meetups / training sessions

  • Willingness to reach out to fellow students and members of the faculty for sharing knowledge about PPGIS and Maptionnaire

  • Organizing workshops or other events to facilitate the knowledge-sharing

  • Writing a blog post or creating a video to reflect on the activities

  • Periodical communication with the Ambassador program coordinator

If you have any questions regarding the program, please send an email to festa@maptionnaire.com.

 

Happy Mapping!

The Maptionnaire team

New Feature: Customize the Thumbnail Image when Sharing Surveys Online

Using social media is one of the best ways to connect your survey with the wisdom of the crowd.  Getting noticed in this competitive environment can, however, be a challenge. To tackle this issue, we’ve made it easier to have your surveys stand out on social networking sites. There is a new option in the General Settings section of the editor that allows you to specify the image that is displayed when you’re sharing a survey link around on Facebook or Twitter. This image can, for example, be a screenshot of the front page of your survey and it will replace the generic Maptionnaire thumbnail image.

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The rule of thumb is that you should use images that are large enough (FB minimum 1200×630, Twitter minimum 1500×1500) but at the same time limiting their size to 5MB. Check out the more specific image guidelines of the social platforms here: Facebook and Twitter. Both also provide tools that let you preview posts and tweets before sharing them.

Finally, it’s good to be aware that Twitter and Facebook make copies of the images you’re adding. These copies aren’t necessarily updated immediately when you’re trying to change an image. To force Facebook to forget the previous image and let you experiment with a new one, go to Facebook’s sharing debugger tool and select “Fetch new information” or “Scrape again”. With Twitter, this is unfortunately not possible at this time. You will just have to wait for them to revisit your page.

Twitter’s preview tool

Twitter’s preview tool

Facebook’s sharing debugger tool

Facebook’s sharing debugger tool

Maptionnaire Chosen among Key Nordic Sustainable Urban Development Solutions

We are honored to be a part of Nordregio’s catalog of cases that embody the values of environment, equality, openness, and efficiency. In short, the Nordic urban model. The catalog is part of the Nordic Solutions project which seeks to promote solutions from the Nordic region as tools for tackling the challenges imposed by intensifying urbanization.

Nordic Sustainable Cities is a flagship project within the Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges initiative launched by the Nordic Prime Ministers. The goal of the initiative is to share Nordic knowledge and experiences in creating sustainable societies to help the global community reach the United Nations Sustainability Goals before the year 2030.

Explore the Nordic Sustainable Cities catalog through this link.

Our entry: “Maptionnaire: a digital tool for participatory planning

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Learn more about Nordic urbanism: “Nordregio’s White Paper on Nordic Sustainable Cities

New Feature: Add Documents to Surveys

Sometimes it’s necessary to link surveys with a piece of information that the respondents should be aware of but there’s no smooth way to add it directly into the questionnaire pages. The solution to making official documents and other types of reports available for the survey respondents has been to add a link to where you’re storing the files. These links may, however, easily go unnoticed or they take the respondent to another website.

Maptionnaire’s latest feature helps to tackle these issues all at once: You can now upload your documents into Maptionnaire and make them easily accessible in surveys via buttons.

We’ve introduced a new “Documents” section into the questionnaire editor where you can upload and manage your files. Any uploaded document file can be included to your survey by choosing to add a “Document” questionnaire element. You simply then choose the correct file from your uploads and give the “Document” button a name.

Easy and simple for everyone. See below for a quick visual run-through of the process.

Happy mapping!

The new “Documents” section is accessed via the editor’s top menu. Here you can upload and manage your files.

The new “Documents” section is accessed via the editor’s top menu. Here you can upload and manage your files.

Add a file to a questionnaire page by choosing the “Document” element.

Add a file to a questionnaire page by choosing the “Document” element.

Then add a description (name) to the Document button.

Then add a description (name) to the Document button.

This is how the Document button will appear in the survey.

This is how the Document button will appear in the survey.

Plan Cities in Collaboration with People: Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) in a Nutshell

The world of online public participation and outreach is full of complex terms and abbreviations. Public participation GIS (PPGIS), participatory GIS (PGIS), volunteer geographic information (VGI), crowdsourcing, e-participation, participatory e-planning, and planning support system (PSS) are all examples of broadly used language for describing digitally supported communication and collaboration.

We label Maptionnaire as a Public Participation GIS service. PPGIS is a term born and widely known within the circles of academia. Urban planners and other practitioners are, however, less familiar with it. This blog hopes to help change the situation.

Public participation is essentially the interaction between two sides: The experts that advance urban planning and the individuals or organizations possibly affected by local planning decisions.

The development of information and communication technologies (ICT) has offered new tools and ideas for making public participation more effective and meaningful. The benefits of applying ICT in participation include the adoption of easier and quicker communication methods, increased access to participation, better data quality, and the emergence of more attractive and playful tools for targeting different user groups.

What new technology hasn’t effectively solved is a pitfall widely acknowledged with participatory processes: The question of managing to work truly collaboratively around a specific issue or site.

Ideally, a participation process allows all participants to not only receive information from planners but also to share information. Such two-way collaboration should lead to decisions and outcomes that have been formulated together. In reality, this goal is rarely achieved. Participation is often limited to one-way informing. And rather than supporting working together, many digital tools and platforms have only opened new ways and channels for one-way communication and data collection.

Moreover, participation has conventionally been stifled by spatial ambiguity. Even though public participation is always attached to a certain place, the communication between planners and people has mainly been on-site discussions without proper tools for attaching verbal thoughts to certain locations in an efficient way. Especially when working with a big area, it’s a difficult task to talk about different places and locations with precision.

Public participation GIS (PPGIS) aims to bridge these gaps. The concept combines advanced information and communication technology with a geographic information system (GIS).

As GIS seeks to position everything on Earth, it presents an interesting frame for the public to communicate their preferences, ideas, and experiences. Such information hasn’t conventionally been perceived as a domain of spatial data.

Take a moment to close your eyes and think about where you live. Then begin to draw a mental map of the most important places to you, the spaces that make you feel uncomfortable, the addresses you frequently visit with friends, and so forth.

All these spots in your mental map also have coordinates in the real world. The idea of integrating this kind of ‘soft’ information and knowledge to GIS is the foundation of PPGIS.

The power of PPGIS, thus, is in its ability to turn regular people into experts of their living environment by allowing them to position places that are meaningful and important for them on a map. PPGIS is about opening GIS, a field previously exclusively used by experts, to people who have never worked with geographical data. People participating in the production of GIS data, or location information if you will, support urban planning and development in many new ways.

The technological capabilities for meaningful collaboration don’t, however, necessarily ensure it happens.

Although we need high-quality tools, successfully implemented public participation is not only about them. Many PPGIS stories have proven that no data set alone, no matter how comprehensive they may be, can improve the quality of public participation. Instead, the quality is improved when experts, individuals, and organizations involved in the process understand and value collaboration and co-creation.

With PPGIS, success will follow when all stakeholders appreciate working together for the creation of more sustainable and livable cities, and simultaneously, the ‘soft’ data can be applied and turned into valuable insight to support the effort.

Maarit has written her doctoral dissertation within the same field. Professor Gregory Brown has published many research papers in PPGIS as well.

Researchers and Citizens Co-Design Singapore’s Waterfront

Dr. Johannes Müller and his group at the ETH-Singapore Future Cities Laboratory has recently used Maptionnaire in the “Big Data Informed Urban Design” research project. Citizens as creative contributors to a crowd-informed city is one aspect of their project. In a case study, they empowered Singaporeans to plan a new waterfront neighborhood. This blog continues our series of interviews with researchers working with participatory mapping.

 

Johannes, could you first tell us a bit about your research group?

The Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) is the first program of the Singapore-ETH Centre, an institution established jointly by ETH Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation. In our work, we analyze and develop new strategies to involve citizens in the urban planning process.

 

What was your research project about?

Singapore’s waterfront is undergoing change as the current and centrally located container terminal in Tanjong Pagar will be moved elsewhere after 2027. The master planning of the site is now in progress, but the work is still at an early stage. We used this opportunity to showcase new forms of participatory design. As a research group, we wanted to not only learn how citizens would like to see the area develop, but also observe how they react to different digital participation tools.

Maptionnaire was one of the tools you experimented with. Can you elaborate what you did with it?

We decided to include Maptionnaire, because it is one of the very few products on the market that already contains a design component for regular people and is accessible via the internet.

And the questionnaire we made was a kind of a “Citizen as a Planner” game. Participants could zone the site as they wished by drawing residential, commercial and green areas on a map of Tanjong Pagar. We also asked participants to draw future pedestrian and cycling paths. Finally, people got to browse through pictures of existing examples from Singapore and choose which types of designs for parks, residential blocks, and malls they would prefer to see in the area.

 

What did you learn?

We’re still in the middle of reviewing the answers we received. I can, however, already say that a publicly accessible waterfront, good access to public transportation, and low-rise buildings with neighborhood parks were preferred by the participants.

There were process-related lessons as well. We had planned to organize some face-to-face events linked to the online questionnaire. Unfortunately, we did not manage to have quite as many participants join as we wanted to. What we learned is that reaching out to citizens successfully requires multiple areas of expertise, such as marketing, web design and social science.

 

What was your and the Singaporeans’ experience with Maptionnaire?

We think that the tool was a good choice for getting a sense of the opinion among citizens. Even though our questions were quite openly formulated, participants could clearly share their ideas in a more creative way than conventional survey tools would allow them to.

In general, people liked Maptionnaire because the tool contains elements every participant is familiar with: A map and a survey. Other tools we used in the project work with 3D city models. They turned out to be a bit challenging for some people because 3D models provide an uncommon representation of the existing space, and, hence, are more difficult to comprehend if a low level of detail is given. Our participants preferred tools that are not too abstract and show them a familiar user interference. The simplicity of the elements in Maptionnaire, therefore, was advantageous and motivated people to participate.

From the project management side, I also found Maptionnaire was very easy to use. It’s good that you don’t need specific knowledge about geography or GIS to work with it. You can get your response data automatically in an easily understandable format and further analysis can be done with common software.

The bottom line is that both the citizens and planners liked Maptionnaire because it facilitates the transforming of people’s ideas and opinions into generalized design instructions.

https://ideasfortanjongpagar.com/

The Importance of Getting Together: Summer Day 2018 Recap

Why get together at least once a year?

 The digital revolution in the land use planning sector has brought the Maptionnaire team together. The service was designed to facilitate planners and researchers to connect with those that traditional methods of participation couldn’t reach. However, despite that our team’s identity is very “digital”, we also strongly support the need to experience live human interaction. After all, until the past century, human beings had little chances to communicate with those who were not present physically. Our brains haven’t evolved as fast as technology has.

When it comes to the social science of participation itself, we are strong believers that using a mix of tools that includes digital services is the way to go. However, the traditional methods, such as events or public meetings, should not be discarded. Face-to-face interaction adds a lot of value to any process, especially when planning with people.

As a company, we try to follow a similar approach. As of 2014, we have annually invited the Maptionnaire Community to get together at our Summer Day event. The idea is to share project experiences, ideas, and, very importantly, many stories and laughs.

 This year we hosted the Summer Day at our new office. The participants had the pleasure of learning about different types of projects from a few of the organizations we work with. Presentations were given by Hannele Selin from the city of Järvenpää, Timo Hokkanen from the North Karelia Biosphere Reserve/Koitajoki project, Nora Fagerholm from the University of Turku, and Laura Malm-Grönroos and Seija Lonka from the city of Espoo. In addition, our Maarit shared a few words about the Herttoniemi Neighborhood Vision consultancy project we’ve worked with.

 

Participatory Maps for Decision-Makers

Hannele talked about how Järvenpää’s administration has experimented with Maptionnaire when interacting with decision-makers. They have used map-based questionnaires in a workshop-like setting to gather quick reactions from city council members for structuring the discussion. This has helped the administration to capture and visualize the feeling in the room on complex topics, such as new infill development sites. In Hannele’s experience, this has been a useful method to activate and prep decision-makers for more in-depth discussions.

Hannele from the city of Järvenpää presenting.

Hannele from the city of Järvenpää presenting.

Cultural and Natural Values of the Koitajoki River Area

Timo discussed how they had used our service in their project to crowdsource the important values of the Koitajoki river basin area. He mentioned that Maptionnaire proved to be a very useful tool for gathering people’s insight in a sparsely populated area. They managed to get nearly 1,000 map markings from around 300 respondents, both numbers that would have been impossible to achieve otherwise.

Maptionnaire and Maritime Spatial Planning

Nora Fagerholm offered case studies on how Maptionnaire can be applied in the sustainable planning of coastal and marine environments. In a region on the west coast of Finland, they have collected people’s input on the state of the coastal area to guide the drafting of a plan to improve its recreational use. In Zanzibar, similarly, Maptionnaire has been used to enable government officers and other stakeholders to map coastal opportunities and threats. These findings were merged together with opinions from village residents and incorporated into a coastal spatial plan.

Timo Hokkanen talking about the cultural and natural values of the Koitajoki River area.

Timo Hokkanen talking about the cultural and natural values of the Koitajoki River area.

Automating Planning Feedback

Laura and Seija spoke about a joint development project between Espoo and us to integrate Maptionnaire’s pdf reporting feature to Espoo’s urban planning feedback system. As a result, when residents use Maptionnaire to comment on Espoo’s land use plans, their results can be automatically summarized and sent to the city’s registry office to be processed as their official statement. The project proved to be successful and it helps make city governance more efficient.

 

Herttoniemi Shared Vision

Finally, Maarit told how Maptionnaire has been used in a project to empower the residents of Helsinki’s Herttoniemi neighborhood and the city administrators to co-create a shared vision for the future of the area. A map-based survey was an important part of the project to make sure that everyone in the neighborhood gets a chance to participate in the process. And many did. We managed to involve over 2,000 residents to share their vision.

Our Summer Day programs aren’t long, but we try to use our time efficiently. You can take a look at our last event in this video. We are also thinking about hosting similar events abroad in the future. Let us know if you would like to collaborate in bringing Maptionnaire to your area.

As for this June’s event, you can enjoy the pictures below taken by our own Andy.

Embracing the GDPR – 3 Maptionnaire Privacy Updates You Should Be Aware Of

It’s no longer news that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came in to effect on May 25th. Everyone’s inboxes have been flooded with notices of renewed privacy policies. At Maptionnaire we welcome the idea behind the new requirements for companies to be more transparent and give people more control over their data. We’ve worked hard to ensure that our service and your Maptionnaire experience live up to the philosophy.

In addition to publishing a renewed General Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy that aim to clarify how we handle personal data, we’ve done some practical GDPR-related updates to the Maptionnaire service. They are as follows.

New General Terms and Conditions (GTC)

The new GTC will automatically be applied to all new Maptionnaire users. But if you already have a Maptionnaire account, the next time you sign in you will see a dialog asking you to accept our new GTC. While at it, you can also update your preference for receiving our newsletter. This dialog will open one time only. The newsletter preference can also be changed later in your user settings.

 

Set Privacy Policies for Sensitive Data Collection

The GDPR requires that institutions keep Personally Identifiable Information (PII) safe. For our customers, this means that in the case of collecting such information in a survey, your questionnaire must include a Privacy Policy for the respondents to review and accept. The Policy needs to clarify what you will be doing with the data.

A screenshot of the new “Data and Privacy Settings” section

A screenshot of the new “Data and Privacy Settings” section

To facilitate this, every questionnaire now has a new “Data and Privacy Settings” section available in the editor. Here you can upload a Privacy Policy document for your questionnaire. You are free to design the document as you like but to make things easier for you, we’ve provided a template you can use – Download it here. We recommend making your Privacy Policy document a PDF file.

If your institution collects Personally Identifiable Information on a regular basis, you may want to set a default Privacy Policy to avoid uploading a new one for every new questionnaire. A Maptionnaire organization’s owner can do this in the organization settings. Once applied, the appointed Privacy Policy will be selected by default to show up in each new questionnaire. However, the questionnaire owner can still change the Privacy Policy later. Please note that the organization’s default settings do not affect already existing questionnaires, only new ones.

If you’re working with a multilingual questionnaire, the link text of the Privacy Policy that shows in your questionnaire can be translated using the translation tool.

Data Access Limitations

The GDPR instructs service providers to design with “privacy by default“. In line with this, we are limiting default access to a questionnaire’s response data within a Maptionnaire organization to the questionnaire owner only.

If the questionnaire owner wants to make a questionnaire’s data accessible to all organization members, this can be done in the new “Data and Privacy Settings” section of the editor. Note that the enlarged data access is a per-questionnaire setting and it is off by default for all existing questionnaires as well as all new questionnaires.

You can also allow response data access by default in your user settings. This will only affect newly created questionnaires and you can still change the settings of individual questionnaires separately.

Please note that the new data access setting only affects other members of your Maptionnaire organization. You can still generally or more selectively share access to the response data by setting an analysis password in the “Passwords” section of the editor.

The owner of a Maptionnaire organization can also activate API-based access to response data. This access type is separate from the password-based and organization membership-based access types. The option is intended for integration with third-party services or automated processes (FME). For more detailed information about API-based access, you’re welcome to contact support@mapita.fi.

Happy and secure mapping!

Heritage Is Ours – Crowdsourcing Place-Based Memories

Public participation is very important when it comes to built-heritage conservation. Celebrating its importance, as well as the European Year of Culture Heritage 2018, Europe Nostra has published “Heritage is Ours – Citizens Participating in Decision Making”. A book that presents inspiring practices and cases related to heritage participation. These crowdsourcing examples that come from all over Europe tell about citizens’ success on impacting cultural heritage decision-making processes.

One of the articles featured was written by our Development Director, Maarit Kahila, together with Marketta Kyttä and Pilvi Nummi. You can read it below.

 

Crowdsourcing Place-Based Memories

Places as Assemblages

Cultural heritage is an essential and evident part of our living environment. Where people live and move, it is virtually impossible to find places without traces of cultural heritage. Cultural heritage can be broken down into tangible and intangible features. Tangible features cover historical buildings, old town blocks, agricultural landscapes, memorials, and so forth, whereas intangible features are the symbolic meanings, stories, experiences, and other memories that envelope the visible surroundings. Cultural heritage forms an essential part in the creation of unique places. Places as assemblages comprise the various meanings people have applied to the same place at different times. In an optimal situation, the handprint of former generations intertwines with the contemporary living environment in a profound way.

In the era of accelerating urbanization, we tend to homogenize the local surroundings by diminishing the existing valuable features of cultural heritage. Urban planning that seeks answers to ever-growing cities should find new ways to support the development of local assemblages by confirming the uniqueness of places. People’s memories are an important part of the history and identity of a place. Place-based memories, experiences, and opinions provide urban planners with important information that helps them to understand the meanings of places and to gain a sense of the place. In this article, we shed light on how the uniqueness of local assemblages could become more profoundly understood by giving people the opportunity to map their experiences of cultural meaningful environments.

However, the process of identifying valuable cultural heritage sites is usually left to experts. Yet solely expert-based evaluations represent a traditional workflow that neglects the input of local people. We agree that the premise that resident insight should be valued alongside the expert analysis by allowing residents to share their experiences by identifying important new cultural heritage sites, and by evaluating the already observed places. These experiences can either complement the existing database with stories and memories attached to places or provide information on new undiscovered places or buildings.

Maptionnaire survey    visualizing the cultural heritage objects in Nikkilä, Sipoo, Finland. In the survey, respondents were able to view and evaluate the existing cultural heritage sites and recommend new culturally valuable buildings and landscapes.

Maptionnaire survey visualizing the cultural heritage objects in Nikkilä, Sipoo, Finland. In the survey, respondents were able to view and evaluate the existing cultural heritage sites and recommend new culturally valuable buildings and landscapes.

The digital era has enabled the development of new public participation tools and methods. These tools can be roughly divided into ones that enable more effective communication (e.g. different social media tools), the gathering of information from people (e.g web questionnaires and GIS-based mapping tools), and joint design and planning activities (e.g. Geodesign). When it comes to urban planning, these tools enable us to avoid pitfalls in the field of participatory urban planning. Map-based public participation tools (PPGIS) support valuable crowdsourcing information that makes cities wiser. Interaction with citizens not only creates information, but also supports learning and innovation, and instills trust. Maptionnaire is an example of PPGIS that helps cities and other actors to collect, analyze and discuss resident insights into a map. During the last 15 years, cities have started to value and use resident input as an equally important part of their knowledge base for planning.

Interactive GIS-based mapping tools identify the invisible and hidden landscape. A handful of PPGIS projects are also currently being carried out in the field of cultural heritage. In these projects, PPGIS has been used in three different ways:

  1. Allow residents to identify cultural heritage places,

  2. Allow residents to evaluate cultural heritage sites identified by experts, and

  3. Inform residents about cultural heritage

In the village of Nikkilä in southern Finland, residents’ place-based memories and evaluations of cultural heritage objects were crowdsourced using PPGIS and in social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). With the help of a questionnaire, information was captured about cultural heritage buildings and culturally significant landscapes to reveal the cultural layers of the small village. Residents were eager to explore the already marked cultural heritage sites as they saw themselves as providing important input for the project through new markings and personal stories.

The “Hanko of memories and dreams” project was implemented as part of an “Academy of Finland”- funded project called CODSGI (Co-Design of Digital Storytelling System with Geographic Information) It was among the very first projects where PPGIS tools were developed to capture the stories and memories from Hanko’s past. As well as the opportunity to mark their written memories and stories on the map, residents were able to leave photos and voice recordings.

In Finland and Norway, two old psychiatric hospital areas were studies using PPGIS. Metropolia Applied Sciences University in Helsinki developed local welfare concept for the old Lapinlahti Hospital site by allowing people to map their current usage as well as new ideas. The project in Norway, called Asker, aimed to transform the existing Dikemark cultural heritage site because the former hospital functions provided scope for the development of a vibrant place where local people could be housed. PPGIS was used as a part of a co-designing process which eventually resulted in an in-depth guidance report for the local authorities.

The results of these projects show that a map-based questionnaire is a functional tool for collecting place-based memories, ideas, and stories. In addition, such tools are a practical way to disseminate valuable knowledge among the local community. PPGIS is also scalable as it can extend from single blocks to whole cities. In the future, it would be fruitful to examine how the results have been taken into account in the planning process. We argue that, instead of monumentalizing cultural heritage, we need to create tangible and intangible solutions that support the identification and strengthening of the local, unique features of particular places.

hanko_survey.png
hanko_survey1.png

The “Hanko of memories and dreams” questionnaire was implemented with Maptionnaire to collect personal stories, pictures and voice recording from Hanko. In the survey, respondents were also encouraged to share their ideas on how to develop Hanko in the future

Authors:

Maarit Kahila-Tani – maarit.kahila@mapita.fi

Marketta Kyttä – marketta.kytta@aalto.fi

Pilvi Nummi – pilvi.nummi@aalto.fi

Source:

Europanostra.fi. (2018). Heritage Is Ours – Citizens Participating in Decision Making. [online] Available at: https://www.europanostra.fi/en/heritage-is-ours-citizens-participating-in-decision-making/ [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].

Youtube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1splFQrab66R0aIyIsvlLQ


Tech News – Easier In-Survey Map Views, Strong Passwords, and More

We are always busy enhancing the Maptionnaire experience. Here are a few updates on recent improvements.

Keeping Respondents Focused Now Easier

Maptionnaire offers survey managers the possibility to define individual map views (location and zoom level) for separate survey pages. This is useful when you, for example, wish to ask questions about different locations in your questionnaire and don’t want your respondents to get lost on the map.

If they still do, it’s now easy for them to find their way back. We added a new button that will appear in surveys with separate in-survey map views. Clicking the button will take respondents back to the pre-set location. The button is greyed out on pages that are not linked to a specific map view, and it’s not visible at all in surveys that don’t use this feature.

The new button will appear below the zoom buttons.

The new button will appear below the zoom buttons.

Survey Landing Pages Load Faster

Long and content-rich surveys used to slightly slow down the opening of a survey link. We improved this experience by making all landing pages load immediately, regardless of the survey’s length. The survey contents will start loading in the background while the respondents are browsing through the landing page information.

Strong Passwords Required

We are now requiring stronger passwords to ensure all accounts and shared information within a user group stay safe. This is effective starting immediately for new accounts and password changes with existing accounts. If you are not sure about the quality of your current password, we strongly recommend you change it to comply with our new security standards. This enhancement is part of the measures we are taking while preparing for the enforcement of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Bug Fixes

We’ve solved an issue where respondents have not been able to draw on top of certain map layers. Now drawing routes and polygons will work the same no matter what’s on the map.

We have also fixed a minor layout issue where adding a drawbutton to a survey page automatically shrinks the page to a certain width. Now it’s no longer a visual problem to include a wide multiple-choice question element and a drawbutton on the same survey page.

We hope these improvement will make your work with Maptionnaire easier. More things are coming later this year – make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to hear about them first!

Happy Mapping!

Participatory Mapping for Improving Disadvantaged São Paulo Communities

This is the first edition in a series of blog posts about how young researchers are using participatory mapping in their work. We’re starting an interview with post-doc researcher Carolina Carvalho who has been researching vulnerable and poor communities in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, Brazil.

You can read the interview below.

What is it exactly that you’re working with, Carolina?

“I’m doing research on the empowerment and governance of the marginalized Novo Recreio community. It is in Guarulhos, the second largest municipality in the São Paulo urban area. The work belongs to the frame of the international ResNexus project, which investigates resilience and vulnerability at the urban nexus of food, water, energy and the environment.”

Can you tell more about the problems in this area?

“Guarulhos is facing several urban challenges. Especially water shortages are a contemporary issue. Other problems in the densely urbanized municipality include air pollution, lack of green areas, and the risk of being able to maintain a clean supply of water. These problems are particularly visible in Novo Recreio, which shelters approximately 4,500 families in a vulnerable social condition. A lack of access to water is a particularly pressing issue in the community. Besides it, the residents have little access to energy and basic services. The neighborhood also occasionally suffers from erosion, landslides, and flooding.”

How did you address these challenges in your work?

“We wanted to map out the main problems the inhabitants of Novo Recreio are dealing with and how they could be best solved. And in order to do so, we developed a 3-month participatory GIS course on urban sustainability and environmental health for high school students in the neighborhood. During the course, we applied several participatory tools, like Talking Maps, Community Journal, GIS layers produced manually, and of course Maptionnaire.

More specifically, we used Maptionnaire to have the students plan the kind of neighborhood they wanted. With the help of a map survey, we, for example, asked them to mark where they would like to have a school. Currently, there is no school in the neighborhood and students must walk long distances through dangerous areas to attend one. Other things we asked them to point out included where they’d like to have a cinema, a fresh food market, or a health clinic. We also asked about a good location for a recycling cooperative, and where would it be appropriate to have a shelter for the residents in case of flood or landslides. Finally, we wanted to know their opinion on how these changes could become real."

A snapshot of the locations that students mapped.

A snapshot of the locations that students mapped.

What did you learn from this?

“We learned that young people want to have more leisure options and to improve the quality of life within Novo Recreio. But more importantly, we were able to distinguish preferred places for the neighborhood improvements people desired. Using Maptionnaire for participatory mapping proved to be extremely valuable for the compilation of insights that can guide neighborhood planning in a vulnerable community. Specifically, the possibility to create heat maps out the data made it easy to detect trends in the points marked by the students. I think comparing the data collected with Maptionnaire against municipal data can help to add efficiency in urban planning.”

A heat map of the preferred places to have a fresh food market. The main street seems to be the most desirable location.

A heat map of the preferred places to have a fresh food market. The main street seems to be the most desirable location.

What do you plan to do next?

“We are building a report of the results and focusing on disseminating it to the public and the managers of the city of Guarulhos. We’re now working on having also the city managers map the same area using Maptionnaire. You can have a more detailed look at our results and keep following the progress of the project on my blog."

Check out the English and Portuguese version of Carolina's blog.

This project is funded by  PROCESSO FAPESP # 2015/21311-0

What Does Digitalizing Participation Mean?

We did an interesting discovery last fall while talking to planners that visited our exhibition stand at Nuremberg’s Kommunale Fair: when bringing up the topic of public participation, their reactions were divided into two. Some were excited about the possibilities and ideas a dialog with residents can bring; others feared opposition and prefer not to open any conversations with the public.

This is worrying as participation in its different forms should be an integral part of planning processes these days. At the same time, it is also understandable as not all aspects relating to the concept of “participative planning” are necessarily positive.

The conventional public engagement processes can end up being a burden for various reasons. At meetings, the number of attendants can be low and those who come represent only a small segment of the population. When discussing plans with the attendants, the opposing voices are often the loudest. Finally, the planner might end up returning to the office carrying a pile of post-its with opinions and ideas written on them. It is not an easy task to transform that data into a usable format, let alone present the information to others.

How could we apply the popular word “digitization” to ease the work of planners and to increase their enthusiasm for participation?

For one, it can easily be applied early on. Digital participatory tools are often used in the initiation phase of planning projects to crowdsource for first opinions from residents. When the dialogue between planners and residents begins in the early stages of planning, acceptance towards a project is likely to become higher. This enables planners to understand the scope of the opinions on certain topics and areas before any concrete plans are drawn.

If the early feedback shows that the future development proposal will be conflict-prone, it can be helpful to make visual maps pointing to the divided opinions. The maps can be shown to residents at the neighborhood meetings to frame the conversation.

The bottom line is that public engagement can and should be fun, also for planners. Digitalizing the participation process with tools, such as Maptionnaire, helps to bypass the problem of low participation attendance by allowing planners to reach a larger crowd. Digital tools also add the possibility to visualize aspects of the dialog. Using them is, therefore, a good starting point for fruitful cooperation between planners and residents.

If you would like to know more about how Maptionnaire can be used in the early stages of the planning process, follow this link to a blog post written by our co-founder, Maarit. Or contact her at maarit.kahila@mapita.fi if you have any questions.

Happy mapping!

 

Tech News – Enhanced Questions and Data Management

Our 2018 has started with rolling out incremental improvements for creating surveys and managing data. The tweaks are based on feedback from the Maptionnaire community and they’re designed to ensure the service makes your life easier.

Customizable Priority Assessments

The priority assessment, a multiple choice question type, is useful for adding participatory budgeting into your questionnaire. Or for any other exercises with a goal to filter out the important aspects of a larger whole. What’s new with this option is that we’ve introduced the possibility to customize what your respondents are dividing (units) and how much you’re offering them (total value).

To set up a priority assessment, use the questionnaire editor to add a multiple choice question and choose priority assessment from the drop-down menu. Then enter your categories and click the “settings” tab. In the following menu, you can enter a maximum value (number) into the “Total to divide” box and the units you are working with into the open text box below.

You can now customize your participatory budgeting with units and the total budget.

You can now customize your participatory budgeting with units and the total budget.

Researcher-Friendlier Multiple Choice Grids

Our improvement to this question type will especially benefit those working with many multiple choice grids in their questionnaires. One such group are researchers. In the editor, you are required to give each grid you make a name (main question) for the sake of ensuring a structured data set. This requirement forces you to add text to the upper left corner of your grid question even when it doesn’t necessarily add any value to the grid or respondent.

We’re now giving you the option to hide grid names from respondents. This will help to keep respondents focused on the important part of the grid. Furthermore, questionnaire managers can now name their grids as it makes sense for the data analysis process.

This option is enabled under the “settings” tab of your multiple choice grid: just tick the box “Hide the main question”.

The word “Feelings” is the main question (or name) of this grid and now you can hide it (right image) to have less clutter in your survey.

The word “Feelings” is the main question (or name) of this grid and now you can hide it (right image) to have less clutter in your survey.

Download Data Excel Sorted by Dates

Exporting your dataset out of Maptionnaire has always been a couple of clicks away. In doing so, the default has been to receive the entire dataset, starting from the period your questionnaire has been made. Unless, of course, you’ve manually deleted any test answers before sending it out to respondents.

But now you can do more. We added the possibility to choose the period you’d like to have data from. This means you don’t necessarily have to clean the answers from your testing period, just opt to download data beginning from the day actual respondents have received your survey. Or if you just want to compare answers before and after a certain event, it’s now much easier to do so.

Choose the “Date range” option when you want to download data between exact dat es.

Choose the “Date range” option when you want to download data between exact dates.

Reaching Out to Survey Respondents Through Social Media

We are often asked about the possibilities for sharing surveys to potential respondents. Indeed, there’s more to a successful survey project than the creation of an awesome questionnaire. A good marketing campaign is needed, too.

Each Maptionnaire questionnaire is identified by an individual link. The best way to share survey URLs to the public is obviously through digital media. This can be done via email, social media, QR codes, or even through newspapers or local TV.

Nowadays social media is one of the best ways to reach out to people.

Following the saying “The currency of social media is the share”, sharing buttons can be easily added to Maptionnaire questionnaires. But, generally, sharing on social media with a good response rate requires certain expertise.

We summarized how a few social media channels can be used to make the community aware of your next Maptionnaire campaign.

Sharing questionnaires on Facebook

More than one billion people are active on Facebook today. The amount of content that is shared daily increases rapidly. This is not necessarily a good thing because important content can get easily ignored. To avoid having this happen to your survey, we suggest putting an effort to crafting catchy posts. A short paragraph explaining what the survey is about coupled with an image, GIF, or video would do the trick.

The City and County of Denver offer a good example of how clever Facebook posting can be used to attract more respondents:

As with the Denver example, people often leave comments on the survey’s Facebook post. It’s smart to follow up with them: they can be considered a way of participating in the discussion and can include relevant information.

Another way to get more traffic is reaching out to Facebook influencers and asking them to share your survey. These are very often people whose daily job revolves around Facebook and Social Media Marketing. They may ask for a fee but depending on the case, sometimes they also do it for free.

Sharing questionnaires on Twitter

In many countries and cultures, Twitter is less popular than Facebook. But often it is a place to hear the news before they are on any traditional news channel. To spread out the news on a specific topic more effectively, people use hashtags (a word or phrase preceded by the # symbol). It is impressive how far an on-point hashtag can reach. Similar to Facebook posts, it is important to create attractive tweets. Accompany your questionnaire link with a nice “call-to-respond” text, a visual item, and a powerful hashtag, and it can become the Twitter news of the day. As a side note, it helps to use hashtags and mentions that work for your location.

Researcher Andrew Mcclelland’s hosting of a Twitter Talk to find out people’s most valued places in parts of Northern Ireland is a good example of this. He used the Twitter hashtag #MyValuedPlaces to support the sharing of his Maptionnaire survey and received a good response from it.

Sharing questionnaires on Instagram

Maptionnaire’s own Instagram channel is a place you will see coffee cups, the team playing Nintendo Wii, and snapshots of other fun activities we do.

Despite being one of the biggest social networking services, Instagram isn’t likely to bring many respondents to your questionnaire. This is because Instagram doesn’t currently allow link sharing. The only clickable link you can share is the one in the main profile. However, spending a couple of minutes on sharing a post about your questionnaire project won’t bring you any harm. In fact, we’ve seen some of our customers use Instagram for this purpose quite well.

The Memories of Nikkilä is a good example of a project where Instagram sharing worked very well. The municipality of Sipoo’s decision to use Instagram for this project was a great idea since memories are best represented by images. The project team shared the images they collected on Instagram, enabling residents to reminisce their memories together.

InstagramNikkila.png

You can read more about the project on our customer stories.

Questionnaires can also be shared through other channels such as Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+. They are, however, far less popular and might not bring enormous results. Yet, they will add up to the branding of your project.

If you have any good stories about sharing projects on social media, let us know - we love hearing good stories!

8 Tips for Designing a Good Survey

From time to time we get questions about the keys to designing good surveys. How to make a map questionnaire that attracts as many respondents as possible and is easy to understand? In short, the principles are not much different from creating any type of questionnaire. A good survey is easy to read, there are few chances for misinterpretation, answering is made easy, the respondent is informed how long completing it will take, and the quality of the gathered data is high.

Take a look at these tips we compiled to help you succeed in creating effective map questionnaires.

1. Keep your questions clear and simple

One of the most important things is to minimize the risk for misunderstandings. Pay extra attention when formulating your questions. A very common mistake is to ask many things within one question: “Are the houses beautiful and their surroundings well-maintained?”. Also, avoid questions that can be understood in many ways, such as: “Where do you typically come to this area from?” In this case respondents might wonder if you mean the place their trip originates from (work or home), which entry point they use, or which route they use.

2. Avoid complicated language

Imagine yourself in the shoes of the people you want to reach when drafting your questions. The target groups in public participation are often diverse, so it is better to avoid too professional language. If it’s necessary to use an important term people might not be familiar with, it is wise to define it in the questionnaire.

3. Include instructions on how to answer

Respondents may sometimes face technical issues, especially with map-based questions. It’s a good idea to add instructions on how to use the tool. Also, consider the phrasing of your instructions: instead of using rather technical terms such as “point”, “line” and “polygon”, you could use “place”, “route”, and “area” to better describe what you wish the respondents to answer.

4. Motivate respondents to participate

It is beneficial to provide the respondents a motivation to participate. This can be done by explaining your goals and why it’s important that they answer. For example, include information about your project and how the gathered data will be utilized on the front page of the questionnaire. You can also organize a prize draw among respondents to nudge people to answer.

5. Apply a clear structure

Try to keep your questionnaire compact and its structure clear. Guide respondents through the questionnaire using titles and small captions. Keep them informed about how they are proceeding by adding page numbers on questionnaire pages. Question-wise, it is good to start with easier ones to make respondents feel more comfortable and move on to more complicated questions later on.

6. Go easy with obligatory questions

Obligatory questions can be used to force respondents to answer important questions. Setting too many of them can, however, feel annoying. To the degree that some respondents even leave the questionnaire without finishing it. Instead of forcing people to answer, in most cases you can get the same result by having questions sound important and look appealing to answer.

7. Think about the analysis already when formulating questions

The responses you receive will eventually need to be analyzed, so it’s good to think of that process already in advance. Open questions are often burdensome to analyze. You might not want to add too many of them, especially if you expect to get a lot of responses. However, if your goal is to gather a more qualitative dataset, you can try coupling multiple choice questions with additional questions. This way you would still get deep insights but in a more structured way.

If you want to make classifications, for example, based respondent age groups, it’s easier to have respondents choose which age group they belong to rather than ask for their age individually with an open number field. Also, asking many questions with one open field might get messy. For example, it’s a good idea to ask for people’s email, address and phone number with separate fields than with just a single question: “Please write your email, address and phone number in the box”.

8. Have someone test your questionnaire before publishing

We tend to get blind to the text we write. It’s smart to ask someone to browse through and test your questionnaire before publishing it. They will be helpful in spotting any spelling mistakes and seeing if your questions are understandable. What’s more, you get a chance to see if the response data looks correct.

Our customers create inspirational questionnaires with Maptionnaire every day. You can check for some great examples at our customer stories page. Send me an email at kirsi.forss@mapita.fi if you'd like to learn about more specific examples. If you haven't used Maptionnaire yet, go ahead and register. I hope my tips are helpful!

New Feature: Embed Videos into Questionnaires

Engaging with the public is always communication that works two ways. At Maptionnaire, we are constantly striving to broaden the ways you can apply our platform to nourish great dialogues.

We have just introduced a new questionnaire element type - the video element. This means you can now embed videos into questionnaires, eg. Youtube and Vimeo. And it's easy: in the editor, simply add the element to your questionnaire, select the type (YouTube or Vimeo) and insert the video ID.

You can find the video ID of a YouTube or Vimeo video by selecting the "Share" option and copying the ID from the end of the link that is provided. The links look like this: https://youtu.be/n78GSNcAWEM or https://vimeo.com/193327076.

Using videos can help you convey the key concepts of your project in an interesting way or provide a summary of what has been done before.

Put your creative hat on and try it out!