Home ITCResearchPhD projectsco-designing planning support tools for stakeholder engagement in collaborative spatial planning processes

co-designing planning support tools for stakeholder engagement in collaborative spatial planning processes

What's the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation about?
Student:Rosa Aguilar
Timeline:November 2017 - 1 November 2021
Sources of funding:ITC / Urban and Regional Planning and Geoinformation Management Department (PGM)

Collaborative spatial planning is an approach for addressing (spatial) planning problems by including multiple stakeholders. These stakeholders are individuals, groups, organizations and institutions that play a role, have concern or interest in the problem at hand and can influence or be affected by the decision-making process with regard to such problems. Fostering stakeholder engagement in planning processes has become relevant because of the assumption that their active participation can lead to more informed decisions, major acceptance of plans and projects and it can decrease the risks of conflicts and delays because of disputes or conflicts.

With the increasing importance of collaboration and participation, planning support systems (PSS) (e.g. geospatial technologies that aim to help in the decision-making process on the intended use of resources) have evolved in two directions. The first direction is analytical where a PSS aims to improve the outcome of the planning process itself, for example, by achieving better-informed plans. The second direction approach aims towards facilitation of the social interaction among participants. For example, allowing for enhanced communication, facilitating social learning or consensus building.

The so-called maptable is an instrument that functions as a spatial planning support system when combined with spatial data, information and models. It is implemented in a horizontal large touch screen that displays digital contents such as maps, and allows users to interact with this content. Research has shown that this tool can facilitate communication and active participation during planning workshops. 

The maptable combines hardware and software. However, available software tools have significant shortcomings concerning usability and group work support. Moreover, they are designed for experts’ users and do not fully exploit the multi-touch capabilities of such tangible user interfaces such as pinch, other gestures, etc. Also, current software has single user roots which means that collaboration is performed by turn-taking and individual contributions cannot be traced. In addition, there is hardly any open source software tool that can be used in collaborative planning.

The main objective of this research is to develop an interactive, free open source planning support tool following a human-centred design approach that fosters stakeholder interaction and engagement in collaborative spatial planning processes. With this objective, the research will contribute to two perspectives: developing a PSS tool for a maptable that exploits the touch capabilities of the device and accommodates group work in a pleasant experience.

The prototype construction will follow principles of human-centred design and agile software development in order to meet the requirements of stakeholders minimizing the risk of a gap between user’s expectations and the outcome tool. Additionally, the tool will be evaluated in a group work setting with real stakeholders (e.g., during planning workshops) to investigate its added value from the spatial planning practitioner perspective (e.g., facilitation of communication, knowledge co-construction, co-design, etc.).

Meet the team

R.M. Aguilar Bolivar MSc (Rosa)
Graduate Student
prof.dr. K. Pfeffer (Karin)
dr. J. Flacke (Johannes)
Research theme
People, Land and Urban Systems

In PLUS research, people are our focus. Everyone is included, from societal thought-leaders, to government policy makers, to high-level civil society advocates – through to entrepreneurs and citizens, including the disenfranchised. These people are our collaborators, our participants, our beneficiaries, our users. PLUS focuses on understanding the spatial information needs of society and responding to those needs in responsible ways – as tools, as systems, as infrastructure, or as ways of thinking. Our work sits at the nexus of urbanization, land tenure, governance, climate change, and transportation – and the grand challenges of sustainability and social equity in the age of the anthropocene.

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