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Participatory spatial knowledge management tools : Empowerment and upscaling or exclusion?

  • Pfeffer, Karin
  • Baud, Isa
  • Denis, Eric
  • Dianne, Scott
  • Sydenstricker-Neto, John
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
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Different types of spatial knowledge (expert, sectoral, tacit and community) are strategic resources in urban planning and management. Participatory spatial knowledge management is a major method for eliciting various types of knowledge, providing a platform for knowledge integration and informing local action and public policy. Knowledge types linked to a specific geographical locality can be integrated through geographical information systems. Recent developments in geographical information and communication technology (geoICT) have extended the opportunities for participatory spatial knowledge production, use and exchange. However, data reliability of user-generated content, social exclusion due to dependence on technology and the interpretation and implications of digital maps are major concerns. The challenge is how to integrate and utilize multiple knowledge sources for improving urban management and governance. This paper integrates the literature on knowledge types and knowledge production processes with available geoICT tools for the production, use and exchange of knowledge sources and applies it to examples from Asia, Africa and Latin America. From this review, we provide a heuristic framework for assessing the extent to which participatory spatial knowledge management tools can be instrumental on several fronts. We argue that technological developments of knowledge production have not fully addressed important issues related to accountability, empowerment, control and use of knowledge. Moreover, these developments may foster social exclusion, which could detract from the benefits of participatory spatial knowledge management in the context of urban sustainability.

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