Does mapping improve public participation? Exploring the pros and cons of using public participation GIS in urban planning practices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • Utrecht University
  • Mapita Ltd.


While participatory urban and regional planning have become a widely accepted approach to enhance the democratic aims of community and urban development, challenges still remain. Planners lack the knowledge of usable tools to reach broader groups of participants, which can turn participation into a small-group elitist activity. Also, the quality and utilisation of the knowledge produced is problematic, the collected data remains invisible and systematic analysis is often not realized. In this article, we ask whether digitally supported PPGIS (public participation Geographical Information Systems) tools can help addressing these challenges. Through a critical analysis and reflection upon over 200 real life planning cases in Finland (62%) and other countries (38%) using PPGIS methodology we study the ability of PPGIS tools to (1) enhance effective arrangements of public participation, (2) reach a broad spectrum of people and 3) produce high quality and versatile knowledge. Our results indicate a variety of advantages and disadvantages in using PPGIS methodology in urban and regional planning practice. By categorizing the pros and cons of using PPGIS in practise, we enable planners to implement more inclusive and people-centred urban and regional planning in the future.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 32547494