Mapmaking for Change: Online Participatory Mapping Tools for Revealing Landscape Values in the Bad River Watershed
Sack, Carl M.
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The research reported here contributes to an emerging understanding of crowdsourced information and collaboration in the Geoweb. Its focus is Online Participatory Mapping (OPM), or the public, collaborative synthesis and presentation of Crowdsourced Geographic Information to support the goals of a community. This research draws from the fields of GIScience and participatory development practice to examine how new Geoweb technologies might empower communities to promote their own values and agendas when faced with contentious land use issues. It tests whether crowdsourced web maps can replace or complement specialist-generated geographic information with local knowledge and landscape values. A case study was conducted around the deployment of a wikimap, or OPM application, for the Bad River Watershed of Northern Wisconsin, the site of a contentious proposal for an open-pit iron mine. The wikimap was developed through a user-centered approach, relying on feedback solicited from stakeholders and targeted users to inform the application design. Interviews with local stakeholders were conducted and analyzed to produce a conceptual design and multiple prototypes of the wikimap. Public workshops were held to assess the usability of the wikimap and to promote buy-in. System interaction logging revealed that most users focused on map reading and information seeking, with only a small minority of users choosing to contribute information. A follow-up survey found that user-contributed information increased users' understanding of features in the watershed, but to date has had little impact on public discourse. The case study resulted in a functional wikimap adopted by a modest number of Bad River Watershed area residents. The research results indicate the need for robust community partnerships throughout the OPM process, further inquiry into the motivation of wikimap users, and design strategies to increase the breadth of user contributions and the social impact of future wikimaps.
Online Participatory Mapping
Bad River Watershed
Includes Maps, Figures, Tables and Bibliography.