Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Beyond the Blind Spot: Enhancing Polyphony Through City Planning Activism Using Public Participation GIS

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Abstract:  A key advantage of public participation GIS (PPGIS) tools has been seen as increasing the polyphony of urban planning by reaching the wisdom of crowds. However, the challenge is to enable participation for those who do not have the skills or resources. This article describes participatory action research where the authors of the article collaborated with a local city planning activist at the Kontula Mall, Helsinki (Finland) to improve the participation of a group marginalized from the renewal process (i.e., immigrant entrepreneurs) using a PPGIS tool (Maptionnaire). The case study provided insights into the potential for city planning activism to bring out marginalized groups’ perspectives and use PPGIS. Moreover, the research also revealed barriers to polyphony in current planning practices. Nevertheless, planning activism can enable the participation of the marginalized by coming into contact with them, providing them with information, and bringing their perspectives to the collaboration. The PPGIS tool can serve as a platform to collect participatory data through different response modes. Local activism can also facilitate the questionnaire’s co-design, testing, and marketing. Therefore, a bottom-up approach can be a way to improve the impact of PPGIS and enhance polyphony in urban planning.

Keywords:  bottom-up participation; city planning activism; expanded urban planning; Finland; immigrant entrepreneurs; polyphonic urban planning; PPGIS; public participation


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© Eveliina Harsia, Pilvi Nummi. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.