Web-based Public Participation GIS platforms to support rehabilitation processes of urban riparian landscapes

Authors and Affiliations: 

Xavier Garcia (1), Marta Benages-Albert (1), Carmen Mendoza-Arroyo (1), Anna Ribas (2), Pere Vall-Casas (1)

(1) Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Carrer Immaculada 22, 08017 Barcelona, Spain
(2) Departament de Geografia, Institut de Medi Ambient, Universitat de Girona, Pl. Ferrater i Mora, 1, 17071 Girona, Spain

Corresponding author: 
Xavier Garcia

Over the past several decades, urban development has severely impacted rivers and streams and constrained their ecological functioning (Everard & Moggridge 2012). Rehabilitating urban rivers may provide an array of tangible and intangible benefits, including health, economic value, quality of life, or contributions towards regional regeneration (Lundy & Wade 2011). Despite growing interest, several planning and management issues discourage widespread initiation and implementation of river rehabilitation schemes. A major reason for hesitation is that these schemes can be controversial because of conflicting interests and expectations, often resulting in a lack of general support (Warner et al. 2012). In this context, it is critical that urban river rehabilitation consider riparian communities’ current perceptions and future preferences for their riparian landscapes through public participation (Junker & Buchecker 2008; Buijs 2009). The objective of this study is to explore the usefulness of web-based Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) tools in a participatory rehabilitation process of an urban riparian corridor. Experience the Stream–PPGIS is a prototype of web-based PPGIS set of platforms (Comment! and We decide!) that has been developed to facilitate public participation in the rehabilitation of the Caldes Stream urban corridor (Catalonia, Spain). PPGIS are a collection of methods and technologies focused on the collection and management of spatial data in public participation processes (Sieber 2006). Web-based systems allow for public participation to be asynchronous and distributed, overcoming relevant limitations of traditional participation meetings (Kingston et al. 2000). Comment! allows to collect spatially explicit information on public perceptions and improvement preferences. We decide! will allow to consult the data collected in Comment!, and vote and comment on the user’s expressed improvement preferences. In addition, We decide! will allow to explore this information in conjunction with the “public management priority maps” obtained from an analytical processing of the spatial data collected in Comment!. Finally, We decide! will be complemented with various workshops with locals to promote its use and reinforce the deliberative capacity of the participatory process. To date, 67 users have marked 256 spatial data attributes regarding place perceptions attached to the stream corridor, with 91 text comments, and 258 improvement preferences attributes, with 100 text comments. We decide! platform will be implemented soon (May 2017) and will enable the participative prioritization process of rehabilitation actions. We hypothesise that using these web-based PPGIS platforms within this urban river rehabilitation framework will contribute to clarify and take account of the wide range of place-based citizen’s interests and expectations towards this urban stream corridor, and broaden and strengthen public involvement in the rehabilitation process


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