Design Considerations for Participatory GIS

Steve Robischon, Piotr Jankowski, Timothy L. Nyerges, and David Tuthill

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

Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS), unlike standard GIS, rely on custom-build software solutions for support of a decision problem domain or a specific decision problem at hand. Many considerations including potential users, decision problem characteristics, available resources, and the particulars of human-computer-human interactions must be taken into account to ensure true decision support functionality of PGIS. Many potential software engineering approaches exist that can be adapted for a development of PGIS. In this paper we discuss some of these approaches focusing on trade-offs faced by a designer(s) of PGIS intended for participatory/group use. We present specific steps, which in our view are germane to the process of designing PGIS. We illustrate the steps with an overview of a functional prototype called WaterGroup. This PGIS was designed to support collaborative water resource management decision making in the Boise River basin in southwestern Idaho. The intended users of this system range from policy makers to public citizens with an interest in water management. This paper should be relevant to anyone in interested in designing GIS for participatory use.

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