Participatory Mapping, E-Participation, and E-Governance: Applications in Environmental Policy

Participatory Mapping, E-Participation, and E-Governance: Applications in Environmental Policy

Pragati Rawat, Juita-Elena (Wie) Yusuf
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5412-7.ch007
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This chapter focuses on participatory mapping as an e-governance tool to facilitate public participation. Public participation is a key component of democratic governance, and there is a growing reliance on digital government tools such as the internet and social networking sites and geographic information systems (GIS). This chapter focuses on public engagement using information and communication technology, namely participatory mapping, known by a variety of terms such as participatory GIS (PGIS), public participation GIS (PPGIS), and voluntary GIS. While the analysis involves use of participatory mapping related to environmental issues, the chapter brings together seminal work from various fields of citizen engagement and participatory mapping. The idea is to create one common narrative for scholars and practitioners, bringing together various terminologies, practices, and studies in participatory mapping in the environmental arena that offers a beginner's frame of reference.
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Environmental Issues And Participation

Environmental issues are concerned with human actions that affect the biosphere, including species, habitats, or landscapes. Environmental policy is aimed at governing the relationship between humans and their natural environment. Decisions regarding technical issues such as the environment are generally thought to be best left in the hands of experts and scientists (Rowe & Frewer, 2000). Environmental policy is the definitive example of technocratic policymaking (Fischer, 2000), as the technical nature of environmental policy makes it difficult for the average citizen to comprehend (Crow & Stevens, 2012). Yet, growth in citizen science suggests that citizens are interested in science and complex topics (Crow & Stevens, 2012; Dickinson et al. 2012; Brown & Donovan, 2014).

Environmental problems are complex and dynamic, leading the policy field to embrace diverse sources of knowledge and values, and embed participation in environmental decision making (Reed, 2008). For example, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls on member countries to implement educational and public awareness programs, provide public access to information, and seek public participation in addressing climate change and its effects (1992). ICTs, including GIS technologies, are widely used to support public participation in environmental issues (Al-Kodmany, 2002; Bojórquez -Tapia, Diaz- Mondragón, & Ezcurra, 2001; Gonzalez et al., 2008; Jordan & Shreshtha, 2000; Kingston, Carver, Evans, & Turton, 2000).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Human Sensors: General publics’ use of ICT tools for sensing and sharing data relevant for policy making.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): A set of information technology tools to collect, store, analyze, and display spatial information.

E-Government: Use of information and communication technology for delivery of government services.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): Range of hardware and software associated with communication of information using digital data.

Voluntary GIS (VGIS): Participatory mapping where the public voluntarily provides spatial data using ICT tools.

Public Participation GIS (PPGIS): Participatory mapping activities using GIS and the Internet. It relies on random sampling and focuses on high data quality.

Participatory Mapping: Activities that involve the general public in map-making activities.

E-Participatory Mapping: E-governance tool for public participation that utilizes ICT to engage the public in participatory mapping activities.

Participatory GIS (PGIS): Participatory mapping activities involving the use of GIS technology. It is associated with use of purposive samples and focus on empowerment of indigenous people.

Public Participation: Engagement of the general public in policy-making activities. It includes activities such as sharing of government information, seeking comments on issues and policies, and using public inputs in decision making.

E-participation: Use of ITCT for engaging the public in policy making activities.

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