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Integrating Public Participation GIS application into the Dutch environmental planning system

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Last Updated: 2-2022

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Traditional public participation methods in environmental planning are plagued by low participation rates, caused by poor and ineffective communication, time and distance constraints, and planning experts deeming information provided by the public to be unstructured and subjective. All are causing a lack of public trust in the government and a low acceptance of its plans. Therefore, a method needs to be found to harness the knowledge of the crowds and convert it into structured, useful information. Public Participation Geographical Information Systems (PPGIS) applications have been identified to (partly) bridge this gap. Therefore, the research proposes a method to integrate a PPGIS application into the Dutch land-use planning and public participation system to improve public participation rates compared to their traditional counterparts. Questions regarding the three critical aspects of successful PPGIS integration for this method are answered. Applicability, by investigating which PPGIS variables – neighborhood characteristics as perceived by residents – are the most important and relevant to be applied in the Dutch context. Information quality, by investigating and showcasing how PPGIS variables and issues perceived by inhabitants can be measured and subsequently structured into useful qualitative information for land-use planners and decision-makers. Representativeness, by investigating how a PPGIS application can be embedded in the current legislative framework to achieve higher levels of representation and participation. For this showcase, a pilot study is performed in the Dutch neighborhood of Limbeek in Eindhoven. This pilot study consists of an online questionnaire in which residents were asked to state their level of satisfaction with their neighborhood and ten neighborhood characteristics, select locations in and around their neighborhood they experience as positive or negative, and which of the neighborhood characteristic(s) they associate with that experience. These locations are then inserted into QGIS to create positive and negative heatmaps for all PPGIS variables.

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