Reshaping the planning process using local experiences: Utilising PPGIS in participatory urban planning

Maarit Kahila-Tani

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


    The existing methods used in participatory planning do not enable multifaceted and truly inclusive public involvement. Despite the advanced technological data collection methods now available, the role of experiential knowledge remains marginal in planning practice. The utilisation of digital tools in participatory planning remains effectively additional to and detached from the core planning tasks. Many different actors, developers and researchers have created separate GIS-based data harnessing tools, such as planning support systems (PSS), public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) and tools gathering volunteered geographic information (VGI). Despite the innovative technological work undertaken, challenges remain in adapting these tools on a profound and permanent level to the support of participatory planning practices. The planning technology literature focused on the development of forward-looking technology is rarely linked to the theoretical discussions occurring in the participatory planning literature. This dissertation aims to build a bridge between these two distinct discussions. The object of this thesis is to study the potential of these tools to support participatory urban planning. The research analyses a set of SoftGIS and other PPGIS studies conducted during the period 2004-2015 in varying research and urban planning projects in Finland. The thesis adopts a normative approach to the question of how various PPGIS tools could be embedded more securely into the urban planning process. The thesis constructs a heuristic conceptual model for a participatory planning support system (PPSS), based on the experiences of applying PPGIS tools. The central observations of this thesis reflect the numerous ways in which PPGIS tools and experiential knowledge can support planning during the different stages of the planning process and in relation to different planning tasks. At best, PPGIS methods can produce multifaceted information, especially in the early phases of the planning process. Data gathering however remains effectively characterised as singular interventions to harness specific information for the direct purposes of the ongoing planning task. Embedding this experiential knowledge more fully into the planning system currently rests almost exclusively on the shoulders of individual planners. Grafting PPSS onto the planning system requires a rather more strategic approach to participation.
    Translated title of the contributionPaikallinen kokemustieto suunnitteluprosessin uudistajana: PPGIS:n hyödyntäminen osallistuvan suunnittelun tukena
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Kyttä, Marketta, Supervising Professor
    • Mäntysalo, Raine, Thesis Advisor
    • Horelli-Kukkonen, Liisa, Thesis Advisor
    • Staffans, Aija, Thesis Advisor
    Print ISBNs978-952-60-6603-5
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6604-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • SoftGIS
    • PPGIS
    • PSS
    • PPSS
    • public participation
    • local experiences
    • urban planning
    • planning process
    • trading zone


    Dive into the research topics of 'Reshaping the planning process using local experiences: Utilising PPGIS in participatory urban planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this