Let the Citizens Map—Public Participation GIS as a Planning Support System in the Helsinki Master Plan Process

Maarit Kahila-Tani*, Anna Broberg, Marketta Kyttä, Taylor Tyger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Current public participation methods are laborious, reach few participants and are ineffective at gathering usable information for planning. This situation leads often to mistrust and dissatisfaction in the process and outcome. This article identifies the critical conditions for meaningful use of public participation GIS (PPGIS) tools to support the making of master plan in Helsinki. With PPGIS tools, residents’ insight of their living environment can be reached and utilized along the planning process. The results are divided to conceptual and empirical points. Whereas the conceptual points emphasize better understanding of the locus of the PPGIS tools in planning process, the empirical findings reveal new ways to study how residents’ perceptions align with the plan proposal. Though new tools, data and analysis can support representativeness, independence, early involvement, influence and transparency, planners and residents need more understanding of the benefits of these tools. The study indicates that though planners found the collected data and the analysis valuable, they still lacked the skills and institutional motivation to use the data effectively. The results point out that when PPGIS tools can be integrated to the mainstream planning practices, the tools have the ability to evolve to a more comprehensive participatory planning support system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-214
Number of pages20
JournalPlanning Practice and Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Helsinki
  • master plan
  • PPSS
  • PSS
  • Public participation


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