Making sense of spatial perceptions: Analysing PPGIS data for planning purposes
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This project aims to address a hiatus in the academic literature on the analysis of data collected with the use of Public Participation Geographical Information Systems. The research question was: How can geographical data gathered among citizens through the use of PPGIS be turned into information that is valuable in the spatial planning process? PPGIS is defined as the intention of providing all stakeholders in spatial decision-making processes with equal access to the data and analytical capabilities provided through geographical information technology. As such, the role of PPGIS in spatial planning processes can be seen as a form of communication technology. One of the main obstacles in this exchange of information is the variation in knowledge of the stakeholders on the spatial issue at hand. The focus in this research is on the analysis of the experiences of citizens for use in participatory spatial planning processes. First, a structured approach for the analysis of PPGIS data was developed. Appropriate analytical tools were assigned to each section of the approach. For the empirical part of the project data was collected on the experiences of citizens in the area of Hoensbroek in Heerlen. A PPGIS application was developed for data collection through use of a spatial survey. The issues addressed in the survey were decided upon in cooperation with the spatial planning department of the Heerlen municipality. The method for the analysis of PPGIS data was then applied to the collected data. As the data in this research was collected in the form of polygons instead of points, a procedure was also developed to prepare the data in such a way that the analyses could yield meaningful results. In the end the PPGIS cycle was completed almost in its entirety, with the development of a PPGIS application and associating questionnaire, the collection of data among citizens and the translation of that data into information through spatial analysis and visualization. Representatives of the spatial planning department of the Heerlen municipality reported that they found the analyses that yielded information that was readily interpretable and provided concrete directions for spatial policies especially useful, i.e. the heat maps, the cluster analysis and the conflict analysis.