Participatory GIS in Collaborative Water Resource Decision Making: Results of a Field Experiment

Timothy L. Nyerges,  Piotr Jankowski, Kevin Ramsey, and David Tuthill

Paper presented at 2nd Annual Public Participation GIS Conference, July 20-22, 2003, at Portland , OR

Case studies involving the use of participatory GIS (PGIS) have a tendency to focus on the outcomes of PGIS use and rarely report on the details of the process of use. Without such insights, our ability to improve the designs and subsequent implementations of PGIS are severely hindered. This paper reports on the results of an empirical study into the use of a PGIS called WaterGroup developed to support collaborative, conjunctive water resource administration decision making. The goal of our study was to evaluate the design of a PGIS in terms of how it impacts the collaborative decision process and collaborative decision outcomes. To compile data we used a social-behavioral science technique called "interaction coding." Coded data were examined using exploratory sequential data analysis techniques. We used three techniques to perform non-parametric, inferential sequential analysis. Each analysis makes use of "interaction event codes" developed as part of the three streams of the interaction coding systems redeveloped as part of the project. Lag sequential analysis can tell us what interaction events (i.e, codes) preceded and followed any particular interaction event. Cycles can tell us how many interaction events get repeated in a cyclic manner. Transitions can tell us what interaction events seem to follow what other interaction events. This being a field experiment, the numbers of codes are not large, therefore parametric analysis is not appropriate as it was in our past study. We discuss the findings of this analysis as well as the implications of these findings for PGIS design. This presentation will be of interest to researchers who conduct empirical studies of PGIS use as well as PGIS designers and technicians who wish to gain a deeper insight into the ways in which PGIS technologies are used in realistic settings.

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