National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

Open Question Situations

Please comment on any of the situations linked below. Your thoughts in reference to similar situations or to related documents will provide helpful context for workshop participants and others who are interested in this topic. Comments can be posted to the PPGIS Forum.

These situations are offered as points of reference for thought and comment. They are "open question" in recognition of the many uncertainties which surround initiatives in the public domain. Allowing questions to remain open while exploring solution alternatives has been identified as a central requirement for a public participation GIS.

Some similarities may be seen between these situations and traditional case studies. The situations are intended to be opportunities for reflection and response, rather than to provide detailed factual reports. Responses regarding any aspects of the situations will be critical in developing the concepts being examined here.

Questions which remain open are assumed to be questions which have been legitimate from the start. These are marked by uncertainties shared by all participants who are in search of solutions (when addressing questions of fact) or resolutions (as to questions which require mutual assent).

Each situation will be developed during the coming weeks. Your direct comments are invited. The online conference PPGIS Forum is intended to be a vehicle toward sharing and organizing comments and questions related to this theme.

Examples of responses which would help in expanding the frame of each situation are:

What is the range of people or interests with a stake in the outcome?
What information is often held to be private in such a situation?
What information should be accessible to all partners in the process?
What components of any resolution may not depend on "information"?
What is the range of information which may be available to stakeholders?
Do the situations bring similar settings to mind?

For all situations:

What are the spatial components?
How can spatial analysis be brought to bear on the issues?
What communication components and processes would be required?
What is missing from present capabilities which might be useful in these situations?

Four situations (B through E) build upon policy issues which are current in Maine. Situation A: Regional Landfill is derived from the article by Helen Couclelis and Mark Monmonier, "Using SUSS to Resolve NIMBY: How Spatial Understanding Support Systems Can Help with the 'Not In My Back Yard' Syndrome," Geographical Systems 1995, no. 2, 83-101.