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 conference, Participatory 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