Too Long, Didn’t Read


A monthly précis of a significant piece of research in the field of public participation, presented by the IAP2 Canada Research Committee.

“A Model of Conflict Resolution in Public Participation GIS for Land-Use Planning,”Fung, Tung; Zhang, Yongjun (2013) Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design: Vol. 40 (summarized by Jessica Dyck, IAP2 Canada Research Committee)

In this study, Fung and Zhang consider how geographic information systems (GIS) can be used to resolve conflict among stakeholders in land use planning public participation processes.

Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) uses message boards and Google Maps to enable participants to contribute to the conversation and identify specific land areas that are of concern. GIS technicians and planners use this information to create options that will accommodate a wide variety of concerns. Participants have access to a website that accommodates a message board.

A desktop decision support system connected to the data gathered through the participant website and message board is available to planners.

The authors suggest that the “core processes of conflict resolution” in land use planning include the following steps:

  • Participants express and share individual preferences;
  • Planners identify and characterize the preference information; and
  • Planners help participants build consensus through negotiations in an iterative fashion (page 3 / 552).

The authors posit that conflict in land use planning occurs at two levels: a values level and a specifics level. Using Lantau Island in Hong Kong as a theoretical case study, the researchers found that PPGIS can be used to support the “core processes of conflict resolution” (page 3 / 552) at both levels.

A key recommendation from Fung and Zhang is that the use of PPGIS includes stakeholders in “the procedures of preference identification and decision making that are currently dominated by planners” (page 17 / 566).


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