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PGIS combines Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods with geographic information systems (GIS). PGIS combines a range of geo-spatial information management tools and methods such as sketch maps, participatory 3D modelling (P3DM), aerial photography, satellite imagery, and Global Positioning System (GPS) data to represent peoples' spatial knowledge in the forms of (virtual or physical) two- or three-dimensional maps used as interactive vehicles for spatial learning, discussion, information exchange, analysis, decision making and advocacy. Participatory GIS implies making geographic technologies available to disadvantaged groups in society in order to enhance their capacity in generating, managing, analysing and communicating spatial information.
PGIS practice is geared towards community empowerment through measured, demand-driven, user-friendly and integrated applications of geo-spatial technologies. GIS-based maps and spatial analysis become major conduits in the process. A good PGIS practice is embedded into long-lasting spatial decision-making processes, is flexible, adapts to different socio-cultural and bio-physical environments, depends on multidisciplinary facilitation and skills and builds essentially on visual language. The practice integrates several tools and methods whilst often relying on the combination of 'expert' skills with socially differentiated local knowledge. It promotes interactive participation of stakeholders in generating and managing spatial information and it uses information about specific landscapes to facilitate broadly-based decision making processes that support effective communication and community advocacy.
If appropriately utilized, the practice could exert profound impacts on community empowerment, innovation and social change. More importantly, by placing control of access and use of culturally sensitive spatial information in the hands of those who generated them, PGIS practice could protect traditional knowledge and wisdom from external exploitation.
- Public participation GIS (PPGIS)
- Traditional knowledge GIS
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- Open Forum on Participatory Geographic Information Systems and Technologies - a global network of PGIS/PPGIS practitioners with Spanish, Portuguese and French-speaking chapters.
- The Aboriginal Mapping Network supports aboriginal and indigenous peoples facing issues such as land claims, treaty negotiations and resource development.
- Integrated Approaches to Participatory Development (IAPAD) - Provides information and case studies on Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) practice.
- Village Earth - Provides facilitation, consultation and training in for community-based mapping initiatives including mapping of indigenous territories, community census projects, community/government interactions.
- International Institute for Sustainable Development - Provides online training in community-based mapping.
- Native Lands works to protect biological and cultural diversity in Latin America, with a focus on Central America and southern Mexico.
- The Philippine Association for Inter-Cultural Development (PAFID) uses Participatory 3D Modelling, GPS and GIS applications to support Indigenous Cultural Communities throughout the Philippines in claiming for their rights over ancestral domains.
- The Borneo Project partners with communities and local organizations that document and map ancestral land claims.
- ERMIS Africa builds capacities among local communities and development practitioners in using Participatory Geo-spatial Information Management Technologies.
- The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) supports the dissemination of good PGIS practice in ACP countries.