Precision for whom? Mapping ambiguity and certainty in (participatory) GIS (PLA 54)

Journal (part) article
PDF (212.57 KB)
Published: April 2006
Participatory Learning and Action
Product code:G02958
Source publication:
Participatory Learning and Action 54 – Mapping for change: practice, technologies and communication

Mike McCall raises important questions about the issues of certainty and precision within the practice of PGIS. The terms have become of great significance in the realm of more technical GIS application, yet Mike asks whether it is misleading to misrepresent fuzzy, ambiguous reality as precise or accurate – especially when PGIS represent data acquired using participatory methodologies, that represent local interpretations of certainty, reliability, and relevance. It is too easy when sharing experiences relating to PGIS practice to focus on success stories, and for practitioners to be hesitant in engaging in critical reflection relating to their own work. These important but little discussed issues include potential pitfalls that projects might face, the concerns surrounding precision, and the ethics of the practice.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See:

Article in: PLA 54. Guest-edited by: Giacomo Rambaldi, Jon Corbett, Michael K. McCall, Rachel Olson, Julius Muchemi, Peter A. Kwaku Kyem, Daniel Wiener, Robert Chambers

Keywords: mapping, Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS), PPGIS, Geographic Information Technologies and Systems, geo-spatial information management tools, sketch maps, participatory 3D models (P3DM), aerial photographs, satellite imagery, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), software.

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, . (2006). Precision for whom? Mapping ambiguity and certainty in (participatory) GIS (PLA 54). .
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