Web-based participatory mapping technologies are being increasingly harnessed by local governments to crowdsource local knowledge and engage the public in urban planning policies as a means of increasing the transparency and legitimacy of planning processes and decisions. We refer to these technologies as “geoparticipation”. Current innovations are outpacing research into the use of geoparticipation in participatory planning practices. To address this knowledge gap, this paper investigates the objectives of web-based geoparticipation and uses empirical evidence from online survey responses related to 25 urban planning projects in nine countries across three continents (Europe, North America, and Australia). The survey adopts the objectives of the Spectrum for Public Participation that range from information empowerment, with each category specifying promises about how public input is expected to influence decision-making (IAP2, 2018). Our findings show that geoparticipation can leverage a ‘middle-ground’ of citizen participation by facilitating involvement alongside consultation and/or collaboration. This paper constitutes a pilot study as a step toward more robust and replicable empirical studies for cross-country comparisons. Empowerment (or citizen control) is not yet a normative goal or outcome for web-based geoparticipation. Our evidence also suggests that information is pursued alongside other objectives for citizen participation, and therefore functions not as a “low-hanging fruit” as portrayed in the literature, but rather as a core component of higher intensities of participation.
- Citizen participation
- Community engagement
- Map-based surveys
- Public Participation GIS (PPGIS)
- Spectrum of public participation