Participatory GIS

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Participatory GIS (PGIS) is a participatory approach to spatial planning and spatial information and communications management.[1][2]

PGIS combines Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods with geographic information systems (GIS).[3] 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.[4] 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.[citation needed] 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,[5] the practice could exert profound impacts on community empowerment, innovation and social change.[6] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jo Abbot; Robert Chambers; Christine Dunn; Trevor Harris; Emmanuel de Merode; Gina Porter; Janet Townsend; Daniel Weiner (October 1998). "Participatory GIS: opportunity or oxymoron?" (PDF). PLA notes 33. pp. 27–34. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2010. Abbot, J. et al. 1998. [Participatory GIS: opportunity or oxymoron?] Participatory Learning & Action PLA Notes (IIED, Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Livelihoods), PLA 33, 27-34.
  2. ^ Giacomo Rambaldi and Daniel Weiner (Track Leaders) (2004). "USA 3rd International Conference on Public Participation GIS (2004) - Track on International Perspectives: Summary Proceedings, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 18–20 July 2004, Madison, Wisconsin" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  3. ^ Jon Corbett; Giacomo Rambaldi; Peter Kyem; Dan Weiner; Rachel Olson; Julius Muchemi; Mike McCall; Robert Chambers (2006). "Overview: Mapping for Change: The emergence of a new practice" (PDF). 54:13-19 IIED, London, UK. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  4. ^ Rambaldi G., Kwaku Kyem A. P.; Mbile P.; McCall M.; Weiner D. (2006). "Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication in Developing Countries". EJISDC 25, 1, 1-9. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  5. ^ Gicomo Rambaldi; Robert Chambers; Mike McCall; Jefferson Fox (2006). "Practical ethics for PGIS practitioners, facilitators, technology intermediaries and researchers" (PDF). PLA 54:106-113, IIED, London, UK. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  6. ^ R. Chambers (2006). "Participatory Mapping and Geographic Information Systems: Whose Map? Who is Empowered and Who Disempowered? Who Gains and Who Loses?". EJISDC 25, 2, 1-11. Retrieved 28 September 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Corbett, J. and Keller, P. 2006. An analytical framework to examine empowerment associated with participatory geographic information systems (PGIS). Cartographica 40(4): 91-102.
  • McCall, Michael K., and Peter A. Minang. 2005. Assessing Participatory GIS for Community-Based Natural Resource Management: Claiming Community Forests in Cameroon. Geographical Journal 171.4 : 340-358.
  • Elwood, Sarah. 2006 Critical Issues in Participatory GIS: Deconstructions, Reconstructions, and New Research Directions. Transactions in GIS 10:5, 693–708
  • Chambers, K., Corbett, J., Keller, P., Wood, C. 2004. Indigenous Knowledge, Mapping, and GIS: A Diffusion Of Innovation Perspective. Cartographica 39(3).
  • Kyem, P. 2004. Of Intractable Conflicts and Participatory GIS Applications; The Search for Consensus Amidst Competing Claims and Institutional Demands. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 94(1): 37–57.
  • Kyem, P. 2001/2004. Power, participation and inflexible institutions: An examination of the challenges to community empowerment in participatory GIS applications. Cartographica 38(3/4): 5-17.

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