Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dr. Nigel Crawhall, director of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) thoughts about P3DM

Dr Nigel Crawhall, director of the Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) shares his thoughts after the completion of a Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) exercise which took place among Ogiek Peoples in Nessuit, Kenya in August 2006.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Locating Participatory 3D Models on Earth

I have created an interactive world map working both on Google Maps and Google Earth displayng georeferenced P3DM exercises. You can now use P3DM Where? to locate Participatory 3D Models worldwide.

View Larger Map

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Participatory Geographic Information Systems: More than maps

At the Annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology on March 25 - 29, 2008, Memphis Marriott, USA, there will be a session relating the practice of PGIS and applied anthropology by the title: Participatory Geographic Information Systems: More than maps.
In their Call for Papers the session organisers wrote: "Most activities that we undertake, either as academics or practitioners, require producing tangible outputs as part of the work process. Outputs serve as metrics to evaluate progress and determine future direction. Mention of a Participatory Geographic Information System (PGIS) invariably elicits numerous requests to see the maps, and fewer questions regarding the process that went into their development. The "P" in PGIS has its roots in the development literature and in Participatory Rural Appraisal and Participatory Learning and Action in particular, which stress the importance of process. The relationship is not one way however, and in this session we would like to draw attention to the contributions that PGIS experiences offer to the larger development community. Our objective is to reflect on a variety of experiences with PGIS and focus the discussion on positive externalities and the intangible benefits that arise through process."

The theme for the Annual Meeri is The Public Sphere and Engaged Scholarship: Opportunities and Challenges for Applied Anthropology. The full description can be found at .

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Participatory GIS — a people's GIS?

In a recently published paper Christine Dunn argues that recent years have witnessed a burgeoning of applications of GIS which grant legitimacy to indigenous geographical knowledge as well as to `official' spatial data. By incorporating various forms of community participation these newer framings of Geographical Information Systems as `Participatory GIS' (PGIS) offer a response to the critiques of GIS which were prevalent in the 1990s. This paper reviews PGIS in the context of the `democratization of GIS'. It explores aspects of the control and ownership of geographical information, representations of local and indigenous knowledge, scale and scaling up, web-based approaches and some potential future technical and academic directions.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

World Summit Award 2007 - Report Back on the session on e-Culture

The session on e-Culture took place at the World Summit Award Winners' Conference in Venice, Italy on 3 November 2007 and included the presentation on the award winning product "Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for Resource Use, Development Planning and Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Fiji".

This short video documents the feedback on the session provided by the rapporteur, Dr. Paul Hoffert, Chairperson of Bell Cabada Fund, Canada and Fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society, Harvard University, USA.

Other sessions of the WSA 2007 Winners' Conference covered the following categories: e-Entertainment, e-Inclusiveness, e-Governance, e-Science, e-Business, e-Health and e-Learning.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) receiving the 2007 World Summit Award in the category e-culture

On November 5, 2007 at a ceremony which took place during the Global Forum 2007 at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy, the CTA-supported project Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for Resource Use, Development Planning and Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Fiji was given the World Summit Award 2007 in the category e-culture. The product has been considered as one of the 40 best practice examples of quality e-Content in the world. The project has been jointly implemented by the following organisation: Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) Network, WWF South Pacific Programme, Native Lands Trust Board, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, National Trust of Fiji, Lomaiviti Provincial Council and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Participatory 3D Modelling in Fiji for Safeguarding Cultural Heritage and Natural Resources

In 2005 a Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) exercise took place in Levuka, Ovalau Island. The exercise has been made possible by the coordinated effort of the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) Network, the WWF South Pacific Programme (WWF-SPP), the Technical Centre for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB), the National Trust of Fiji, the Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (SPC-DSAP) Project and the Lomaiviti Provincial Council of the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and Provincial Development.

The PGIS exercise resulted in the production of an island wide management plan addressing both cultural heritage and natural resources management issues. Based on the analysis done using the 3D model as reference, Tikinas (districts) have now produced and implemented their district-wide management plans.

The 2 min video illustrates the process and is nurtured by the fantastic voices of the inhabitants of Ovalau Island.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The World Summit Award has announced the Winners of 2007

The World Summit Award Grand Jury 2007 met on the island of Brijuni from 1-7 September 2007 bringing together eminent multimedia and e-Content experts from 32 countries. The Jury evaluated 650 entries which were nominated from 160 countries to the Global World Summit Award (WSA). The Jury selected the five most outstanding products in each of the eight WSA Categories as Winners.

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for Resource Use, Development Planning and Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Fiji has been proclaimed as one of the five the winner for the e-culture category.

Preserving and presenting tangible and intangible cultural heritage in line with the challenges of the future; demonstrating valuable cultural assets clearly and informatively using state-of-the-art technology.

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) integrates people’s knowledge and spatial information (contour lines) to produce stand-alone scale relief models that have proved to be user-friendly and relatively accurate data storage and analysis devices and at the same time excellent communication media.

P3DM works best when used jointly with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in a Participatory GIS (PGIS) context.

PGIS is the result of a spontaneous merger of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods with Geographic Information Technologies and Systems (GIT&S) to compose peoples’ spatial knowledge in the forms of virtual or physical, 2 or 3 dimensional maps used as interactive vehicles for discussion, information exchange, analysis and as support in advocacy, decision making and action taking. PGIS practice is usually geared towards community empowerment through measured, demand-driven, user-friendly and integrated applications of GIT&S, where maps become a major conduit in the process.

The project objective was to support community based biodiversity conservation for ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods.

Whilst PGIS started in the late 1980s it has become much refined and more accessible due to the decrease in cost of soft and hardware. The deployment of this product and its adaptation to the Fijian context has been strongly appreciated by the local communities and other stakeholders involved in the process, which resulted in the development and adoption of community-based natural and cultural resources management plans.

The exercise has been made possible by the coordinated effort of the following organisations: WWF South Pacific Programme (WWF-SPP), Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), National Trust of Fiji, and the Lomaiviti Provincial Council of the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and Provincial Development.

Recommended readings:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Multilingual CD Rom: Mapping for Change: practice, technologies and communication

Published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Participatory Learning and Action is the world's leading informal journal on participatory approaches and methods. It is published 2-3 times a year and includes articles of both general and thematic interest. PLA draws on the expertise of guest editors and authors, providing timely accounts and critical analysis about participatory development in specific fields. All articles are peer reviewed by an International Editorial Board, and the series particularly welcome contributions from practitioners in the South.
The Participatory Mapping for Change CD-ROM is an exciting multi-lingual project available from the Participatory Learning and Action series.

Co-published by IIED and CTA, the CD-ROM contains PDF versions of the theme articles from Participatory Learning and Action 54: Mapping for change: practice, technologies and communication, in the following languages: Arabic, Bangla, Chinese (traditional and simplified), English, French, Hindi, Persian-Dari, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil. It also includes other key resources (mainly in English) – all presented in an easy-to-use format: (i) a glossary of terms; (ii) practical ethics for PGIS practitioners and researchers; (iii) the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, (iv) the UNESCO Convention Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage; (v) an overview of experiences from the International Land Coalition (ILC) network; (vi) links to online resources; (vii) a video reportage on the 2005 Mapping for Change conference in Nairobi; (vii) a 20 min video on Participatory 3D Modelling, and (viii) past articles which have appeared in PLA and which are relevant to the theme.

Copies of the CD are available from Earthprint Ltd, priced US$40 plus postage and packaging, or free on request to customers from countries in the South.* To order, contact or visit

Alternatively, subscribe to the series and receive a free copy with your first issue.

How to subscribe

To subscribe, contact Participatory Learning and Action subscriptions, Research Information Limited, Grenville Court, Britwell Road, Burnham, Bucks, SL1 8DF, UK. Tel: +44 1628 600499; Fax: +44 1628 600488; Email:

Subscriptions are available both online and in hard copy. Subscriptions are free to individuals and organisations from the South* and to community/voluntary groups from the North* with limited or no funding for resources. We ask individuals and organisations from the North (including those based in the South) to pay a modest subscription. This helps support the cost of free subscriptions in the South. For more information, including our current subscription rates, visit

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Search the best web-based resources on PGIS, PPGIS and Community Mapping

A highly specialized Custom Search Engine reflecting knowledge and interests in Community Mapping, PGIS/PPGIS practice and science. Based ob Google-Coop technology it allows researchers and practitioners to freely collaborate in its development.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Funding opportunities for CBOs, NGOs and researchers

Excellent online resourse where to find updated funding opportunities (small grants and fellowships) for practitioners and researchers engaged in collaborative natural resource management, PGIS practice, Indigenous Knowledge Management and GIS science.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

International Symposium on Digital Earth

The 5th International Symposium on Digital Earth (ISDE5) represents a rich convergence of technological innovators, active visionaries and local community activists who recognize the paramount need for humans to better understand the Earth. June 7th is a Day Dedicated to Indigenous Peoples and Communities using Digital Earth. Google Earth's Michael Jones will keynote on June 5 and Rebecca Moore will highlight several Google Earth projects on the environment and human rights as well.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Canada's New Government Provides Free Online Accessto Digital Mapping Data

OTTAWA - Experts and other users of digital topographic data will no longer have to pay to use digital versions of government maps and data. The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, today announced that as of April 1, 2007, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) began making its electronic topographic mapping data available to all users free of charge over the Internet. More information on this topic is found here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Establishment of the GeoEye Foundation (potential source for acquiring satellite imagery for research)

GeoEye (provider of satellite imagery (ikonos, GeoEye-1..) announced on March 28th the establishment of the GeoEye Foundation. This foundation will provide IKONOS and eventually GeoEye-1 satellite imagery to select universities at no cost, to help foster the growth of a next generation of geospatial technology professionals. A university would submit a request for a grant of imagery, we will have an internal group of employees, the Foundation Employee Advisory Committee, that will evaluate such requests and make an award. We would then provide the imagery over precise areas of the earth at no cost to the requesting faculty, students or university.
The GeoEye Foundation has already begun providing satellite imagery to support students and faculty studying urban sprawl in Mexico, land-use planning for Jerusalem and a polar ice study in Antarctica to better understand the impact of climate change.

UNESCO’s programme on Mapping of Indigenous Cultural Resources

The UNESCO’s programme on Mapping of Indigenous Cultural Resources intends to foster the identity of indigenous communities and their participation in decisions concerning their development. UNESCO collaborates with different resource persons and networks from around the world to develop appropriate tools and methods. It supports pilot projects, facilitates information exchange and analysis and organizes training to reinforce cultural mapping capacity of decision makers and planners with responsibility in areas such as the transmission of indigenous knowledge systems, education for sustainable development, multicultural citizenship, safeguarding of intangible heritage and/or the conservation of biological diversity. The mapping of indigenous cultural resources carried out by indigenous communities is a way to help mainstream the principles of the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001) and the related UNESCO Conventions: the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005), the Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage (2003) and the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1974).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA)

Aimed at newcomers and experienced practitioners, Participatory Learning and Action is a leading informal journal on participatory learning and action approaches and methods, reaching over 20,000 readers in 121 countries. Since its first issue in 1988, it has provided a forum for those engaged in participatory work - community workers, activists and researchers - to share their experiences, conceptual reflections and methodological innovations with others, providing a genuine voice from the field.
Special issues of Participatory Learning and Action focus on a particular application of participation, for example, community-based conservation (PLA 55), mapping for change (PLA 54) and tools for influencing power and policy (PLA 53). A regular section which contains general articles on participation, tips for trainers and resources on participation is also included. PLA editors welcome contributions, particularly from practitioners in the South and can offer editorial support and advice. All material is reviewed by our international editorial board to ensure its relevance and topicality.
Participatory Learning and Action is published twice a year. It is available on subscription, both in hard copy and online. Most readers from the South can subscribe for free. The latest issues are also available free to subscribers online, or pay to view for non-subscribers. In addition, back issues can be downloaded for free.
All the material is copyright free and we encourage photocopying of articles for sharing and training, provided the source is acknowledged. For more information visit

Monday, April 02, 2007

Participatory GIS for Effective Land Management under Transitional Conditions

Two week PGIS course in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Rural and regional socio-economic spaces and their land resources are increasingly dynamic due to changes in space-economies under conditions of changing land and resource tenure. Sound sustainable land resource management is essential during the transition phases of common property under customary regimes, to cooperative property tenure and various mixes of privatised and state property regimes. These different regimes do and will co-exist and there is movement between them, so there needs to be effective methods for good land management and planning.

In addition the rural areas in Southern Africa are developing in a context of globalisation, political transformation, resource pressures, and growing concerns over environmental degradation and natural and man-induced disasters.
There are conflicts between local and regional actors, in civil society, government and commercial sectors that affect planning and management for sustainable land and resource development. This requires skills in facilitating participation and communication of information, which come together in participatory spatial planning and management (PSP).
Where issues involve spatial management, especially of communal space under transitional tenure regimes, the participatory use of scientific spatial information and local spatial knowledge plays an important role in ensuring the effective involvement of actors. Participatory mapping & Participatory-GIS, together with appropriate visualisation techniques, are appropriate techniques for understanding and dealing with spatial conflict issues in land management.

The course is intended for NFP alumni who work in institutions with an on-going involvement in land planning and management or in natural resources management, and in spatial information use and analysis, having preferably GIS competence in-house.

For more information click here

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) in the Mau Forest, Kenya

The exercise – which has taken place in August 2006 - has been a stepping stone in a long lasting process initiated by the Ogiek Peoples to regain their cultural identity and lost ancestral territories. It has stimulated community cohesion, surfaced lost memories on the environment and traditional ways of living as hunter-gatherers, facilitated inter-generational knowledge exchange and raised awareness on the critical status of the entire Mau Complex in terms of depleted forest cover and affected watershed functions. Ogiek elders concluded that they have now a more holistic understanding of their social, cultural and bio-physical environments. Currently the model covers an area of 528 sq km at a 1:10,000 scale.

In response to a request made by the Elders it will be extended to cover approximately 2,000 sq. km in April 2007. The community has started using the model to define the best way forward in terms of improving the safeguarding of its traditional knowledge, the sustainable management of natural resources and advocacy actions aimed at regaining recognitions of ancestral rights.


CyberTracker is an award winning software application, which enables both literate and illiterate users to map natural resources using a text or icon based interface on a PDA/GPS . CyberTracker is free, has been developed and refined over more than ten years and has been downloaded more than 25 000 times in more than 50 countries.
CyberTracker Conservation is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote the development of a worldwide environmental monitoring network.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Participatory GIS

Participatory GIS is the result of a spontaneous merger of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods with Geographic Information Technologies and Systems (GIT&S) to compose peoples’ spatial knowledge in the forms of virtual or physical, 2 or 3 dimensional maps used as interactive vehicles for discussion, information exchange, analysis and as support in advocacy, decision making and action taking. PGIS practice is usually geared towards community empowerment through measured, demand-driven, user-friendly and integrated applications of Geo-spatial Information Technologies and Systems (GIT&S), where maps become a major conduit in the process.

Participatory GIS and Community Mapping Literature

This online resource is the largest collection of carefully selected literature on participatory GIS, Public participation GIS and Community Mapping. Some documents are available for free. Extremely interesting for students and researchers dealing with participation and geo-spatial sciences.

Google SkectchUp 6

Design enthusiasts take note: there's a new version of Google SketchUp. This 3D modeling software tool is easy to learn, simple to use, and lets you place your models in Google Earth. One of the cool new features is Photo Match, with which you can trace a photo to create a 3D model of the photographed object or match an existing model with a background photo. To stylize your models, there are features for adding fog, creating sketched effects, watermarks, 3D text, and more. And now the integration between Google Earth, 3D Warehouse and SketchUp is seamless, so that you can easily share and reuse models from other 3D Warehouse users. And as noted above, Google Earth now has the "Best of 3D Warehouse" layer that showcases the highest quality models from SketchUp users.

Google Earth 4 released

Six months after it was first introduced as a beta product, Google Earth 4 is now out. Along with a new interface, we've added tons of multimedia content that's been created by online communities plus content from such established sources as Discovery Networks and National Geographic. Be it photo-sharing through Panaramio, hiking trails from Tracks4Africa, Wikipedia articles, or restaurant reviews from Yelp, you can explore all this information in Google Earth's 3D view. And it now also includes the highest-quality textured 3D models of buildings from the 3D Warehouse as a layer ("Best of 3D Warehouse"). For example, check out Canary Wharf in London, landmarks in Manhattan, or the entire Denver downtown.

Community mappers warned!

China restrains mapping by foreigners
China Daily, 27 January 2007
A new regulation restricting surveying and mapping by foreigners will be implemented in China on March 1 2007. "The regulation will strengthen China's management of surveying and mapping by foreign organizations and individuals, protect national security, and promote economic and scientific cooperation between China and other countries," said an official from the State Bureau of Survey and Mapping on Thursday. Foreign organizations and individuals who intend to engage in surveying and mapping must obtain approval from the central government and accept supervision from local governments, according to the regulation.

Collaborative search engine launched for PGIS/PPGIS practice and science)

Using Google Coop technology a collaborative project has been launched to develop a highly specialized customized search engine reflecting knowledge and interests in PGIS/PPGIS practice and science. Researchers and practitioners are invited to contribute to its development.