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Operationalising spatial quality for PPGIS. The case of the Lauwersmeer area development process

Prosman, M.A. (2023) Operationalising spatial quality for PPGIS. The case of the Lauwersmeer area development process. Master thesis.


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In the Netherlands, massive landscape transformations are needed. To facilitate this, the Dutch national government has written a National Environmental Vision, in which improving spatial quality is a central aim. However, a definition of what makes a space qualitative or not, is lacking. Additionally, due to the term’s subjectiveness, different users tend to have different views on what makes a particular organisation of space qualitative. Thus, public participation is needed to include the viewpoints of different users. A possible approach for identifying an area’s perceived spatial quality is the use of online PPGIS, as PPGIS can potentially solve the problems of traditional participation. So far there has not been an evaluation in the literature of how the tool performs specifically for grasping spatial quality. Therefore, this paper discusses the concept of spatial quality and studies how it can be operationalised for use in PPGIS. Moreover, this combination of spatial quality and PPGIS is put to the test in the Lauwersmeer area development process to identify who is reached when using PPGIS and evaluating how the tool’s results can contribute to landscape transformation. Within the Lauwersmeer case study, methodological triangulation was used. This includes participatory observation, participatory mapping (PPGIS) and expert interviews. It was found that, despite limitations, the Hooimeijer matrix, which distinguishes three values – use, experiential, and future value – and four societal interests – economic, social, ecological, and cultural – provides a good base for understanding spatial quality. Furthermore, using PPGIS for identifying an area’s spatial quality leads to a visual, complete, and useful overview the Lauwersmeer area’s spatial quality, based on which recommendations for landscape transformation can be made. Moreover, PPGIS can aid the participation process by helping to reach a larger audience that includes groups that are not normally included, which in the case of the Lauwersmeer area development process is done by including the area’s visitors. However, in this case, the use of PPGIS does not solve other problems related to traditional participation, as the most represented respondent is still the highly educated middle-aged man. PPGIS can thus enable public participation by mapping citizen’s views on spatial quality in landscape transformation processes in multiple ways. Firstly, by including a larger audience in the participation process. And secondly, by providing useful, complete, visual overview of a landscape’s subjective spatial quality, which then can form the basis for objective goals in landscape transformation. Based on the results of this study, it is recommended to apply PPGIS for identifying spatial quality in the very beginning of the landscape transformation process. Additionally, further research is recommended on how this methodology performs in other case studies.

Item Type: Thesis (Master)
Degree programme: Environmental & Infrastructure Planning
Supervisor: Restemeyer, B. and Brink, M.A. van den
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2023 13:52
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2023 13:52

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