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J Environ Manage. 2009 May;90(6):1966-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.08.028. Epub 2008 Jun 11.

Towards Participatory Geographic Information Systems for community-based environmental decision making.


This article discusses the potential of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to become an information technology enabling groups of people to participate in decisions shaping their communities and promoting sustainable use of natural resources. It explains the concept of participation in the context of planning and decision making. In this context Participatory GIS (PGIS) offers tools that can be used to help the public become meaningfully involved in decision making processes affecting their communities. Following an overview of research on PGIS and its current status the article presents two recent studies of PGIS in water resource planning; one involving the use of computer generated maps representing simple information structures and the other involving the use of more sophisticated information tools. The synthesis of both studies provides the bases for discussing the prospects of PGIS to empower citizens in making decisions about their communities and resources.

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