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.

kkp_blog2.png
kkp_blog1.png

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.

generalsettings-maptionnaire

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

Facebook-Nordic-Sustainable-Cities

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.

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!

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!

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.

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!

Bringing Data to Life with Interactive Map Visualization Methods

It’s our strong belief at Maptionnaire that the importance of location data goes hand in hand with the way such data is visualized. Informative and beautiful maps have the power to tell stories and mediate local insights to a wider public.

With our PPGIS (Public Participation GIS) tool, residents can engage in planning processes by leaving their constructive feedback to online questionnaires. This information can then be analyzed and visualized using Maptionnaire’s own, built-in, data analysis tool. The visual outcomes, i.e. maps, strive to pinpoint key findings and highlight the importance of local-level knowledge to change the way better living environments are planned for all of us.

In smart urban planning, it is increasingly important to find ways to turn location data into creative outcomes. Here we’ll quickly explain how we’re adopting Carto, a location intelligence software, to further enhance our possibilities of interpreting, visualizing and sharing PPGIS data, and the advantages it has for participatory urban planning.

Carto’s software product, Builder, is an intuitive online drag-and-drop tool for discovering key insights from location data. Builder allows easy importing, filtering, analyzing and visualizing with complex virtual data sets. The software supports all common GIS file formats and offers a built-in analysis tool for exploring data patterns to, for example, predict, determine or optimize locations.

To put it more concretely, urban planners could apply this to estimate the best locations for city bike stations. Or they could use it to find clusters of areas that are lacking daily services such as grocery stores.

The final map product can be published online for everyone to view. Or, optionally, its visibility can be restricted with a password. The map visualization can also be integrated to one’s own web page by using an iframe code (see below).

The true strength of Carto’s Builder lays in its interactivity. Thanks to the software’s widget tool, analyzed data can be examined in real time according to the readers’ interests. In the published map, each widget interacts with a numeric data set, to which the map visualization responds without making changes to the original data set. In other words, widgets help the reader to visually navigate (e.g. filter) a data set in a specific geographical context.

Since Carto functions completely on the web, there is no need to install any software and the service is available to the user and the public everywhere and always. In this way, Carto opens the door to new customized mapping experiences that can unite the interests of many and enhance the quality of visual analysis to better understand the location data at hand.

The role that visualizations play in mediating the messages behind PPGIS data is strong and something we must pay special attention to both as map makers and as map readers. Creating visual map representations always involve subjective decisions of the cartographer, such as choosing analysis and classification methods or just the colors displayed. How a map is presented indeed plays a vital role in what is presented.

However, together with powerful analysis tools such as Carto, we can increase transparency by empowering the map users themselves to interpret the results. We believe that making location data manageable and meaningful for everyone can contribute to better participation and involvement in urban planning.

“To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!”

– Alfred A. Montapert

Getting Started with Map-Based Engagement

Maptionnaire is a SaaS platform which helps residents and urban planners make decisions for superior urban development. The tool’s name combines the words “map” and “questionnaire”, which self-explains what you can do with Maptionnaire: create map-based questionnaires. Both urban planners and researchers can greatly benefit from Maptionnaire’s full-fledged survey capabilities and the ease of location-based communication on a map.

Maptionnaire has been proven easy to use among people of different ages and backgrounds. We have developed the service so that creating questionnaires doesn’t require a background in GIS or in engineering. Maptionnaire’s built-in analysis tool enables users to develop a deeper understanding of their questionnaire data and make visualizations of results even if one has never heard about coordinate reference systems.

The same can be said for questionnaire respondents as well. Maptionnaire has a user-friendly respondent interface which makes it very simple for people to answer surveys and leave their remarks.

The best way to learn whether Maptionnaire is a proper fit for your work is to try it out. Meanwhile, I will explain the procedure for getting started with creating map-based questionnaires in detail.

The main steps to get you started:

Maptionnaire Screenshot

1.

After you have signed up by setting up your account’s details, you can enter the questionnaire editor and start creating a new questionnaire by clicking on the “Create new” button.

Maptionnaire Screenshot

2.

Second, simply add a name and description for the questionnaire.

Maptionnaire Screenshot

3.

Creating new pages to the questionnaire is very straight forward. After you click on the “+”, add a name, and start adding content.

Maptionnaire Screenshot

4.

There’s a wide variety of content types you can add, starting from simple multiple-choice and open questions to uploading shapefile or raster overlays. The feature that enables respondents able to easily mark specific points and areas or draw lines on a map makes Maptionnaire a leading tool in place-based work.

Maptionnaire Screenshot

5.

As the location on the map is a key point in any place-specific inquiries, you can freely decide which exact location in the world your survey focuses on. The questionnaire editor allows you to decide on the zoom level as well. You can also add information layers on the map to help respondents navigate around the area you are targeting.

Maptionnaire Editor

6

The point of Maptionnaire is to enable questionnaire managers to make use of the map to receive geographically precise answers which accumulate as GIS data. So, you will most likely want to add questions that allow respondents to draw points, lines, and polygons on the map.

Digital engagement

Once you have created such a question, you can couple it with a pop-up page to ask more information related to that specific map answer. For example, if the question is “What is your favorite place in Central Park?”, once the respondent has marked their favorite place, you can ask them about why they chose that exact location.

Maptionnaire is very much about maps, but not only so. You can also create conventional survey questions inside your questionnaire. At the moment, you can create questionnaires in 26 languages and we are adding more in the future. If you’d like to see a questionnaire in practice, here is a demo which will you a glimpse of what you can do with Maptionnaire. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything else on your mind.


Photo by Csaba Balazs

Finnish PPGIS Advocates at the Participatory Mapping/GIS 2017 Conference in California

The interest in public participation and more effective urban planning tools dates back to the 1970s. Researchers and practitioners had already started to develop applications to support public participation and urban planning. In the 1990s the term “public participation geographic information systems” (PPGIS) was coined at the meetings of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. Since then, the term PPGIS has been used to describe a variety of tools supporting public participation in collecting geographical information.

During the first twenty years of PPGIS progress, the academic field didn’t organize a global gathering of scholars to critically discuss its methodological foundations. PPGIS research picked up speed in all parts of the world. Academic networks between institutions and researchers were formed to advance the conversation on participation. Today, PPGIS is discussed in international conferences such as Participatory Mapping/GIS 2017. The digital era has accelerated the development of new public engagement tools, and scholars and urban planners are increasingly absorbed in answering three key questions:

  • What participatory mapping tools exist and are gaining traction?

  • Have practitioners discovered the PPGIS tools available to them and have they been able to integrate them into their planning processes?

  • How well do the tools succeed in making public participation better and more effective?

These are the questions at the core of the world’s very first two PPGIS conferences.

In June 2017, Polish scholars with the Association for Spatial Planning and Adam Mickiewicz University organized Modern Methods and Tools for Public Participation in Urban Planning, a two-day symposium for sharing experiences with applications and tools used in different planning situations. The conference was organized by Professor Piotr Jankovski. The participants included well-known professors including Professor Muki Hackley from University College London and Professor Peter Nijkamp from the University of Amsterdam. In her keynote presentation, Professor Marketta Kyttä from Aalto University explored ten years of public participation GIS research and practice in Finland.

The second PPGIS conferenceParticipatory Mapping/GIS 2017, will take place in July 2017 in San Luis Obispo, California. The PPGIS research community gathering was initiated by California State Polytechnic University’s Professor Greg Brown, who has led an impressive career in advancing public involvement in environmental planning. Professor Brown has studied the use of PPGIS in areas such as river conservation and national park planning.

We at Mapita are also passionately contributing to the event. Maptionnaire’s history is deeply entangled with the evolution of academic PPGIS methodology. The roots of our work lie in Aalto University and the development of a methodology named SoftGIS. This work began in 2004, and the approach has led to our map-based questionnaire service, Maptionnaire.

Maptionnaire and SoftGIS will be at center stage, giving three expert presentations at Participatory Mapping/GIS 2017. Our CEO, Anna Broberg, will show how Maptionnaire has been applied in various urban planning settings. Marketta Kyttä, who played an important role in Maptionnaire’s conception, will highlight the utilization of PPGIS in research applications. Lastly, researcher and Development Director Maarit Kahila will explore the advantages and challenges in using PPGIS for urban planning.

We hope to see you in California!


Banner picture by Katie Baumez