As defined by the participants in the Mapping for Change International Conference (PGIS'05) which took place in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2005, Participatory GIS (PGIS) is an emergent practice in its own right; developing out of participatory approaches to planning and spatial information and communication management. The practice is the result of a spontaneous merger of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods with Geographic Information Technologies (GIT). PGIS combines a range of geo-spatial information management tools and methods such as sketch maps, Participatory 3D Models (P3DM), aerial photographs, satellite imagery, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to represent peoples’ spatial knowledge in the forms of virtual or physical, two- or three-dimensional maps used as interactive vehicles for spatial learning, discussion, information exchange, analysis, decision making and advocacy. Participatory GIS implies making GIT available to disadvantaged groups in society in order to enhance their capacity in generating, managing, analysing and communicating spatial information.
PGIS practice is geared towards community empowerment through measured, demand-driven, user-friendly and integrated applications of geo-spatial technologies. GIS-based maps and spatial analysis become major conduits in the process. A good PGIS practice is embedded into long-lasting spatial decision-making processes, is flexible, adapts to different socio-cultural and bio-physical environments, depends on multidisciplinary facilitation and skills and builds essentially on visual language. The practice integrates several tools and methods whilst often relying on the combination of ‘expert’ skills with socially differentiated local knowledge. It promotes interactive participation of stakeholders in generating and managing spatial information and it uses information about specific landscapes to facilitate broadly-based decision making processes that support effective communication and community advocacy.
If appropriately utilized, the practice could exert profound impacts on community empowerment, innovation and social change. More importantly, by placing control of access and use of culturally sensitive spatial information in the hands of those who generated them, PGIS practice could protect traditional knowledge and wisdom from external exploitation. W
Public participation geographic information system[edit source]
Public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) was born, as a term, in 1996 at the meetings of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA). PPGIS is meant to bring the academic practices of GIS and mapping to the local level in order to promote knowledge production. The idea behind PPGIS is empowerment and inclusion of marginalized populations, who have little voice in the public arena, through geographic technology education and participation. PPGIS uses and produces digital maps, satellite imagery, sketch maps, and many other spatial and visual tools, to change geographic involvement and awareness on a local level. W
Traditional knowledge GIS[edit source]
Traditional knowledge Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are the data, techniques, and technologies designed to document and utilize local knowledges in communities around the world. Traditional knowledge is information that encompasses the experiences of a particular culture or society. Traditional knowledge GIS are more valuable than ordinary cognitive maps in that they express environmental and spiritual relationships among real and conceptual entities. They comprise a formidable toolset for use in cultural preservation, land rights disputes, natural resource management, and economic development. W