PPGIS in spatial planning

Web 2.0 shifted the role of the Internet users from being a mere consumer of service to a more active one where they are responsible for creating the content. The availability of mapping services like Google Maps and their public APIs have encouraged the development of various innovative mapping applications. However, there has been a lack of mapping applications where the main intent is to facilitate planning. Various web based applications of geographic information are there that generates hoards of spatial information, but the kind of application that will narrow the divide between GIS for people and GIS for professionals have been lacking. ArgooMap, in fact is an interesting experiment to understand the utility of public participation web mapping projects to facilitate planning.

The discussion thread for the application was carried out in a non-GIS environment first and yet generated a lot of spatial references. Thus it is clear that the inherent way in which people think about planning problems is spatial; hence a UI with a map will help in better representation of the locations being talked about. When the discussion was imported into ArgooMap, the linking of the threads to geographic locations provided a better understanding of what (place) is being discussed. The end output of the system was also helpful for the administrators as they could easily see the regions that generated the most interest without reading through all the messages. One of the problems with building such a system however will be to define what one means by high, medium and low spatial resolution, as the definition for them is very application sensitive. Moreover, a very intuitive UI is needed for such applications so as to ensure good participation from the public. Results of GIS research can also be incorporated to increase the efficiency and performance of the systems.

PPGIS applications such as these have the potential to change how grass root public participation is incorporated into spatial planning related decisions and hence give rise to a new range of e-governance applications.

– Dipto Sarkar

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