At a glance

Policy stage: 
Level of involvement: 
Length of process: 
Approx. 1 day
Number of participants: 

Participatory GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is a social learning tool that uses visual representations to aid facilitation.


GIS is used as a research tool in academia to capture, store, analyse and present data that is linked to a location. Participatory GIS takes this idea and uses it to engage people in particular issues. It uses digital maps, satellite imagery, sketch maps, and others to help involvement and awareness on a local level.


  • For organisations involved in participation and local citizens/stakeholders with an interest in local issues



  • Costs are based on organisation of an appropriate venue for a workshop, staff, equipment and food.

Approximate time expense


  • Used in a workshop format, anything from 1 day+.


  • Creates a new perspective for local stakeholders
  • Visual aspect is easily engaging
  • Adaptable for different social and cultural environments


  • Can be complicated to use, requires knowledgeable researchers


The use of participatory maps began in the 1980s but really developed in the 90s with the advent of Geographic Information Systems. As access to spatial data became more widespread, so did its use in community centred initiatives.

Photo Pixabay at Pexels