a line of paper people holding hands with GPS style geospatial map in background

Geospatial mapping is a powerful tool for understanding our social and physical environments. It can help us understand where people go, places they live, what services are available in an area and how different groups relate and interact with each other.

In this post, we’ll look at how it can be helpful to include a spatial planning analysis element in your citizen engagement activities.

What is Spatial Analysis?

Spatial analysis examines spatial data to understand patterns and trends within an area. Using spatial statistics and geographic information systems (GIS), spatial analysts can make informed decisions on how to utilise public spaces and/or change infrastructure.

This quantitative approach is an integral step in geospatial mapping, used to examine spatial data points when creating a visual representation.

What is Participatory Mapping?

overview of neighbourhood

Participatory mapping, or placemaking, is a method for engaging with a community through mapping activities. These activities can tell stories, create awareness, connect people and provide useful information in a digestible way.

They can also help track and explain how different groups interact and connect. These activities can reveal how a place has changed over time and how it’s changing right now.

Placemaking adds a qualitative approach to geospatial mapping, providing information on how to make an area engaging, inclusive and overall improve the wellbeing of communities and citizens that work, play and live there.

Why is Spatial Analysis Useful?

The main advantage of using a mapping tool is that it allows you to visualise your data in a way that makes it easy for everyone involved: the user who wants to know where the nearest Pizza Hut is located; or someone who needs information about how many people live in their neighbourhood.

Geospatial mapping is an excellent way to do this as it allows people to see connections between different places and understand how they relate. They are especially useful when it comes to providing a visual representation of where different groups live together in your neighbourhood; whether they’re members of your community or not, what they value, and how much space there is between them on the map itself.

This information can help you understand what issues exist with context so that you know where best to focus your efforts when addressing potential issues or encouraging community engagement on future improvements.

Why Should You Use Spatial Analytics in Public Engagement?

Delib geospatial shown on phone that's lying on top of a green mouse pad

Mapping can be a powerful tool for spatial analysis and social interactions. It allows us to think about our community as a whole—important spaces like schools and libraries are often marked on maps, as well as areas where resources are needed. In the same way, simply drawing attention to certain features can lead people to appreciate what makes their area unique compared with others around them.

If you were mapping a park in your area with people who use it regularly, for example, you could show the amount of green space within walking distance from where most people live. You could also look at what activities take place there, such as picnics or sports games – this might indicate that this type of space plays an important role in connecting residents.

In this instance, the role of maps is important in providing spatial data information to users during a public consultation. This participatory planning informs decision-making, letting residents see the long-term impact of changes to their surroundings.

How to Encourage Public Participation in Spatial Planning Consultations

Using geospatial data and mapping, governments can provide a visual representation to help community members understand and engage with the proposed changes of a spatial planning consultation. As a lot of geospatial data is open-source, the maps we can provide when asking questions to citizens are easily accessible and detailed, allowing for an accurate representation of the space discussed.

For example, you can create interactive maps through Citizen Space, or online surveys where community members and citizens can place pins and notes in specific areas to indicate their thoughts.

Using geospatial data to inform spatial planning consultations helps promote transparency and encourage communication so community engagement feels worthwhile and citizens feel heard.

To find out about how to use Citizen Space Geospatial to help your audience visualise your engagement area, contact us for a free demo.