A Key to the Community’s Knowledge: Participatory Mapping Methodology in the Eastern European Context

Gintare Norkunaite and Arne Kunkel

  • Gintare Norkunaite and Arne Kunkel
Keywords: Participatory mapping, participatory urban planning, Eastern Europe.


During the past three decades, new forms of mapping have emerged. The cartography went beyond traditionally accepted mapping parties — institutions and academia. Maps can be created by everyone, facilitated by mass products, such as Google Earth, which Al Gore described as a “Digital Earth Initiative” (Crampton 2009: 91-92; Pickles 2004: 145–177). They are provided by technology giants, which became new, yet important players in cartography unimaginable 200 years ago. As a tool to encode and portray spatial knowledge, a map is widely used in the urban planning process. The changing economic situation and planning practices in Eastern Europe created conditions for integration of society’s voice into spatial planning. New tools are being created to facilitate representation of the new stakeholder — community — in the battle for power between the state, market, and society. This article provides theoretical investigation and practical examples (2 case studies) to explain specificities of participatory mapping in the broader cartography field, and to discover potentials and obstacles of participatory mapping applications in the Eastern European context. Both cases aimed to inspire residents by helping them understand potentials embedded in the spatial structure and architecture of a town, empower them by creating a critical mass with a commonly agreed public opinion on spatial changes. In the context where distrust in local government is common and residents feel incapable of steering a positive change in the development of a town, the two case studies provide methods to overcome these challenges. Even though both workshops use gamification, they employ different tools: geolocation of building blocks, and “a decision tree”. 


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