Evaluating Participatory Mapping Software

For the future of public participation in geospatial planning and development.

About the Edited Volume

This volume provides a framework for evaluating geospatial software for participatory mapping. The evaluation is based on ten key indicators: ethics, cost, technical level, inclusiveness, data accuracy, data privacy, analytical capacity, visualization capacity, openness, and accessibility (i.e., mobile friendly or offline capabilities. Each application is evaluated by a user and cross analyzed with specific case studies of the software’s real-world application. This framework does not discriminate against assessing volunteered geographic information (VGI) applications, as a form of participatory mapping, in circumstances that its application is spearheaded by underrepresented groups with the intent to empower and spark political or behavioral change within formal and informal institutions. 

Each chapter follows a strict template to ensure that the information within the volume can be updated periodically to match the ever-changing technological environment. The book covers nine different mapping applications with the goal of creating a comparative evaluation framework that can be easily interpreted by convening institutions and novice users. This will also help identify gaps in the software for participatory mapping which will help to inform application development in the future and updates to current geospatial software. 

Applications Evaluated

Meet the Authors

Contributors' expertise spans across all subdisciplines of participatory mapping.

Alison D. Ollivierre

is a Senior Cartographer at National Geographic and the Founder/Director of Tombolo Maps & Design, internationally recognized for her award-winning cartography. She has specialized in participatory mapping since 2010, facilitating projects in the Eastern Caribbean and co-founding the International Society for Participatory Mapping (ISPM) and serving a four-year term as a Director-at-Large. Her research has uniquely focused on the value of participatory mapping in small island developing states (SIDS) and its use in addressing climate change, and she was the invited lead author for the International Encyclopedia of Geography's Participatory Mapping chapter published by Wiley and the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in 2021.

Aliya Ryan

is a Program Leader with Digital Democracy and has worked with diverse groups of indigenous peoples in the Amazon. She co-founded the non-profit Shinai, an educational establishment in the Scottish Borders and marginalized minority ethnic communities in Edinburgh.

Angela Oduor Lungati

is the Executive Director at Ushahidi. Angela is a technologist, community builder and open-source software advocate who is passionate about building and using appropriate technology tools to impact the lives of marginalized groups. She has over ten years of experience in software development, global community engagement, and non-profit organizational management.

Anna Broberg

is the COO and Co-Founder of Mapita Oy, where she has a 10-year track record of close cooperation with cities in the design of community engagement processes, tools, and analyses. Her research focuses on urban planning, transportation studies, and the commercialization of digital community engagement.

Carolin Klonner

is a postdoctoral researcher at the Chair of GIScience, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University. Her research interests include the collection and visualization of participatory geographic information for disaster risk management and urban planning. In her doctoral thesis, she chose Sketch Maps for participatory mapping in order to visualize the flood risk perception of citizens. Based on this research, the Sketch Map Tool was developed within the Waterproofing Data project. It improves the information exchange between citizens, local authorities and scientists.

Chad Burt

is the Lead Developer at McClintock Labs and SeaSketch. He is responsible for the design and development of web applications created by the McClintock Lab. Chad led the development of the MarineMap decision support tool and has created innovative data visualization applications for the National Park Service, PISCO, and Santa Barbara Coastal LTER. He also contributed content for the launch of Ocean in Google Earth.

Colin Gibson

is a part-time PhD candidate in the Water Resources Engineering and International Development Studies collaborative program at the University of Guelph. He is also a Project Officer for Ohneganos, an Indigenous-led water research program based out of Six Nations of the Grand River. The program is made up of two main projects: Co-Creation of Indigenous Water Quality Tools and Ohneganos - Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, Training, and Co-Creation of Mixed-Method Tools.

Christopher Martin

is the Indigenous Community Mapping Facilitator for the Ohneganos Project. He has been helping to embed the Terrastories mapping software with information and knowledge about Haudenosaunee history and Six Nations of the Grand River. Chris works in education as well and blends curriculum with Indigenous and community knowledge so that Indigenous youth can be represented throughout learning.

Dawn Martin-Hill

is Mohawk Wolf Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River and is the lead Principal Investigator on an Indigenous-led water research program called Ohneganos.

Fabien Moustard

is a PhD Candidate at University College London (UCL). His research examines how to integrate local knowledge and concerns into regional, national and planetary-scale environmental management systems. He focuses on the role technology can play for social recognition of vulnerable people who are frequently the most ecologically literate, with a particular emphasis on the Congo Basin.

Janet Marsden

is a Professor of Qualitative Research and Professional Issues in Information Management and Technology. Their recent projects include serving on the Citizen’s Advisory Board for NOAA’s proposed National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Ontario and developing data management and computing protocols for the UREx SRN (Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network), a research consortium including Arizona State, Syracuse University and other colleges and universities. Her dissertation research examines how self-organizing ad hoc emergency response based on advanced information and communications technology occurs during extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Hannah Gibbs

is an anthropological archaeologist and was a lead researcher for project titled Extreme Citizen Science: Analysis & Visualisation, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) at University College London. They worked with communities all over the world to help them address local issues that are important to them – from odour and noise in London to illegal logging in the Congo Basin and cattle invasion in Namibia. Their research focuses on Indigenous rights, community-directed mapping, and anticolonial science. Hannah is currently researching the use of innovative technological approaches in co-collaborative recording and management of Indigenous cultural landscapes threatened by climate change.

Janet Marsden

is a Professor of Qualitative Research and Professional Issues in Information Management and Technology. Their recent projects include serving on the Citizen’s Advisory Board for NOAA’s proposed National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Ontario and developing data management and computing protocols for the UREx SRN (Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network), a research consortium including Arizona State, Syracuse University and other colleges and universities. Her dissertation research examines how self-organizing ad hoc emergency response based on advanced information and communications technology occurs during extreme events such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Jeantyl Norze

is a Program Development and Evaluation Specialist who have authored and co-authored numerous publications in a variety of refereed national and international journals. Norze joined Extension at the University of Connecticut as our Evaluation Specialist in January of 2022. He developed, in collaboration with his former colleagues, a needs assessment framework to guide statewide needs assessment efforts that seek to meet and understand the changing needs of the communities.

Jerome Lewis

is a Professor of Social Anthropology and Co-Director of the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group at the University College London. Their research focuses on hunter-gatherer and former hunter-gatherer societies, indigenous rights, participatory mapping, and representation.

Jiri Panek

is an Associate Professor at the Palacky University. He has a Geography-GIS-Development Studies background, with over 15 years of experience. He specializes in participatory approaches in mapping and using spatial tools in/for community development. He co-founded GISportal.cz (online GIS magazine) with more than 2.0M hits (in 9 years) and co-developed participatory mapping tool PocitoveMapy.cz

Jon Corbett

is a Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Community Culture and Global Studies at UBC Okanagan. He is also the director of the Institute for Community Engaged Research (ICER) and the director of the Spatial Information for Community Engagement (SpICE) Lab. Corbett helped design and launch the International Journal of Participatory Mapping.

José María León Villalobos

is Senior Research at the Center for Research in Geospatial Information Sciences (Centro Geo). His research interests focus on using transdisciplinary methodologies for knowledge co-creation, participatory approaches and GIS for mapping local knowledge, community-based planning in agroecosystems, and local risks management and perceptions of citizens. He also coordinates the Laboratory of Territorial Analysis and Community Participation (COMULAB).

Madeline Berger

is an Spatial Analyst with the McClintock Lab, supporting Ocean Use Surveys and Marine Spatial Planning around the globe. Previously, she was an Ocean Health Index at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

Marcos Moreu

is a researcher at the UCL’s Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group. His work with farming and pastoralists communities in SSA focuses on linking crowdsourcing & EO, messaging & mapping, and participatory software design & mapping. In the past, as part of his mechanical engineering studies, he worked in El Salvador in WASH projects; and later on, in East Africa in capacity building projects on the use of GIS and Remote Sensing for DRR.

Marketta Kyttä

is an international leader in the use of participatory mapping to study the environmental experiences of people, especially in urban areas. Her research themes include social sustainability of the living environment, health-enhancing community structure, and child- and age friendly environments. Her team has also extensive experience in the use of participatory mapping in real life public participation projects of cities in various planning levels.

Megan Laws

is a senior research fellow in the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group at University College London. She is a specialist in the anthropology of southern Africa, and her current research concerns how new geo-spatial technologies (with a special focus on remote sensing and mobile data collection) are being used to address ecological uncertainties, and the consequences these have for people living at southern Africa’s rural margins.

Megan Tarrant

is an environmental anthropologist focused on the study of conservation and development. Megan spent three years working with indigenous communities in Peru and Papua New Guinea on community-led rainforest conservation projects with the NGO “Cool Earth.” Megan is now a Research Assistant at ExCiteS in the Department of Geography at the University College London.

Michael McCall

is currently a Senior Researcher in the Center for Environmental Geography of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), after many years in the ITC (University of Twente),The Netherlands. His research and training activities and publications are in social mapping and PGIS with communities, applied to territorial claims, cultural landscapes, natural resources, participatory urban planning, children’s spaces, and assessing vulnerability. He has taught and run workshops in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Michal Rzeszewski

is an associate professor at the Faculty of Human Geography and Planning, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, exploring digital geographies and geographic information systems (GIS). His scientific interests include virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and the relationship between software, code, and space. He is a head of the Critical Geography Research Unit.

Mir Rodríguez Lombardo

has been making maps for over a decade with a special interest in travel maps, cultural resources, and participatory rural mapping. They are a professional translator and conference interpreter, software developer, and biologist.

Muki Haklay

is a Professor GIScience and Co-Director of the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group at the University College London. Their research focuses on the public access, use, and creation of environmental information, human computer interaction (HCI) and Usability Engineering (UE) aspects of GIS.

Natalie Thornhill

is a PhD candidate in medical anthropology at McMaster University. Her research focuses on complementary and alternative medicine and Indigenous wellness frameworks. Natalie is a faculty in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Centennial College in Toronto, where she supports reconciliation through education.

Nora Fagerholm

is Associate Professor in Human-Nature Interactions and Sustainability at the University of Turku. Currently, she is also an Academy Research Fellow and principal investigator of the Academy of Finland funded research project Wellbeing benefits of urban green infrastructure mapped through participation and 3D virtual landscapes.

Peter A. Kwaku Kyem

currently works at the Department of Geography, Central Connecticut State University. Peter does research in Geoinformatics (GIS) and Geography. His research focuses on conflict resolution and the use of GIS, land tenure, and resource distribution. He is author of “Managing Natural Resource Conflicts with Participatory Mapping” published by Springer in 2021.

Robert Vogler

is a Senior Scientist for Geography Education and Socioeconomics Education in the Department of Sociology and Social Geography and the School of Education at the Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg. His research focuses on geomedia integration and geoinformation usage in secondary education from a “spatially enabled learning” perspective based on a constructivist background.

Rohoni Patel

is a Project Officer at the Ohneganos project at McMaster University. She is a certified Scrum Master, SAFe5 Scrum Master, educator and trainer who coaches, motivates, and trains Scrum Teams on Agile methodology and Scrum best practices to meet unified goals while removing barriers that hinder completion of Sprint Goals.

Rudo Kemper

works with Digital Democracy on the programs team and manages the creation of the Earth Defenders Toolkit. Rudo is a human geographer with a background in archives and international administration, and a lifelong technology tinkerer. He is passionate about co-creating and using technology to support marginalized communities in defending their right to self-determination and representation, and towards other decolonizing and emancipatory ends.

Sabine Hennig

is a Senior Scientist at the Department of Geoinformatics at the Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg. She has a background in Geography and Applied Geoinformatics. Her research focuses on user-centered (map) application with special attention to usability and accessibility and special needs user groups, participatory approaches with a focus on Geo Citizen Science and the development of GI learning materials.

Simon Hoyte

is a Ph.D. Candidate of Social Anthropology at the University College London. His research investigates the interaction between three key areas: nature conservation, indigenous peoples, and technology. Based in the Extreme Citizen Science research group (ExCiteS), he is combining techniques from participatory action research (including participative mapping) with hunter-gatherer ethnography to address issues of forest degradation and environmental injustice amongst Baka hunter-gatherers in southeastern Cameroon, Central Africa.

Tim Welch

is a Geospatial Developer for the SeaSketch software platform, supporting marine spatial planning projects around the world. His past roles have been in the areas of forestry, food systems, and transportation planning. He’s also a resident scientist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

Will McClintock

is the Director of McClintock Lab and the Founder of SeaSketch. He has worked in over two dozen countries to support marine spatial planning in the form of stakeholder-friendly decision support tools and currently holds a position as Senior Fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

Vera Helene Hausner

is a Professor of Sustainability Science in the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the University of Norway. Their research focuses on environmental changes, socio-ecological systems, ecosystem-based approaches to management and climate adaptation, and new technologies and approaches for interdisciplinary and collaborative science in coastal and tundra ecosystems.

Peer Reviews

“A highlight of the book is the authorship of the individual chapters. Each is written by a team of technical specialists, developers, and researchers. This breadth of experience and perspective provides a set of examples that will resonate with multiple audiences. Collectively, these chapters provide practical advice for communities and individuals wanting to establish projects in the field. ”
John Corbett, Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Community Culture and Global Studies at UBC Okanagan.

About the Editor

Charla M. Burnett is a scholar and practitioner of participatory mapping using geospatial technologies. She coordinates multilateral and bilateral international development projects from proposal development to implementation and evaluation. Her policy research and program design spans migration, the environment, and conflict resolution with experience working with international organizations in the Middle East and West Africa. She currently supports Michigan State University’s International Development Research Agenda as a USAID Proposal Development Specialist for the Department of Global Innovations in Development, Engagement, and Scholarship (Global IDEAS) where she facilitates multi-college/industry program design and proposal development.

Charla is also a founder of the Migration Alliance Partnership (MAP) Network and the International Society for Participatory Mapping (ISPM). As a result of these efforts, she was honored with the 2018 Excellence in Community Engagement and Leadership Award by the University of Massachusetts Boston and 2022 McCormack’s Graduate School of Public Policy and Global Affairs’ Public Service Award. In 2021, Charla co-started the Umoja House in her home city of Lansing, MI. The Umoja House is a temporary (1 day-12 months) home for migrants of all kinds, including international scholars, refugees, asylees, and internally displaced persons (DV & LGBTQA+). The project houses up to 6 migrants at a time and subsidizes housing costs for up to 12 displaced persons each year through a mutual aid model. 

Evaluating participatory Mapping Software

Set to be published by Springer in 2023