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Geo-information tools for participatory spatial planning: Fulfilling the criteria for 'good' governance?

McCall, M.K.; Dunn, C.E.


M.K. McCall

C.E. Dunn


The last few decades have seen increasing attempts to foster ‘collaborative’ and ‘participatory’ approaches to spatial planning and decision-making, with a more sophisticated conceptualisation of the contested term, participation. Participatory, ‘bottom-up’ geo-information technologies have been concurrently developing and these are expected to strengthen participatory spatial planning; important among these has been the transformation of conventional mapping and GIS tools into Participatory GIS (PGIS). In this paper we explore the potential contributions of participatory geo-information tools towards participatory spatial planning, in terms of the principles and criteria of good governance. We discuss five fundamental principles of ‘good’ governance: accountability, legitimacy, respect, equity, and competence, and the potential of geo-information tools to contribute to, and detract from, such principles; although we focus especially on participation and the recognition and validation of local knowledge. We derive criteria for the five principles, and we identify a range of evaluation questions which can be operationalised so as to interrogate the criteria for judging the contribution of participatory tools and participatory spatial planning activities. We conclude by summarily assessing the potentials of participatory geo-information tools, particularly participatory mobile GIS, participatory 3-dimensional modelling, and visualisation features in PGIS.


McCall, M., & Dunn, C. (2012). Geo-information tools for participatory spatial planning: Fulfilling the criteria for 'good' governance?. Geoforum, 43(1), 81-94.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2012
Deposit Date Mar 9, 2012
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 1
Pages 81-94
Keywords Participatory spatial planning, Good governance, Geo-information tools, Participatory GIS (PGIS), Local spatial knowledge.