E-community participation: communicating spatial planning and design using web-based maps
This chapter addresses innovative methods in using Web-based mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in public participation and community planning. The ultimate goal is to explore how Web mapping can be advanced to facilitate two-way communication between planners and the public. Presently, most Web-based mapping systems use one-way communication to provide static information to the public. Current GIS technologies lend themselves well to one-way communication. While this type of system can be very useful, it is important to consider new technologies that offer opportunities to use the Web in ways that have not previously been recognised. Using examples from a university-community partnership between the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and community groups in Chicago’s Pilsen and North Lawndale neighbourhoods, several such new technologies are introduced and examined. These examples show the progression from one-way communication to two-way and even three-way communication using Web-based maps. The challenges of creating interactive screen-based maps for public participation include navigating large geographic area maps on a small screen, selecting specific map features, geo-referencing public input and transferring this input to conventional GIS systems. These challenges as well as many successes of our Web mapping research are explored in detail. As Web-based mapping capabilities are refined and improved, new avenues are opened for public participation in the planning process.