Using children's GIS maps to influence town planning

Berglund, U.

Berglund, U. (2008). Using children's GIS maps to influence town planning. Children, Youth and Environments, 18(2), 110–132.

Children , children’s participation , communication , GIS , mapping , planning

In a research project carried out in various neighborhoods in Stockholm, Sweden, we have developed a method for facilitating children’s influence on spatial planning. Our goal was to construct a vehicle for communication that could work in practice for both children and teachers as well as for planners. The method uses computerized GIS maps—a common tool in spatial planning. With little assistance, 10- to 12-year-old children map their routes and special places, mark activities and write comments. Teachers can also map routes and places used for education. The results have proved reliable and accessible by planners. Use of the mapping method within the school curriculum and in the planning process is broadly discussed in the paper.

Main finding
The authors found that the mapping activity was accessible to children 10–12 years old, and it was useful and meaningful for urban planners. The maps revealed differences in travel networks, locations and uses of places frequented, and places that children liked or disliked. The authors found that children had more intensive travel networks in neighborhoods with pedestrian paths and that they preferred spaces closer to school, while teachers preferred spacious areas with environmental features farther from school.

Description of method used in the article
The authors conducted a pilot study using a mapping activity with students (n = 87) and teachers (n = 7) from schools in central and suburban Stockholm. The methodology consisted of a mapping activity using GIS and freehand drawing, a questionnaire, a walking exercise, and feedback from participants. The researchers took notes and photographs throughout the process.

Policy implications

Organising categories