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How to reach the ‘hard-to-reach’: the development of Participatory Geographic Information Systems (P-GIS) for inclusive urban design in UK cities

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Sustainable development and successful urban regeneration ideally require engagement with the affected communities. Existing methods employed by policymakers and planners often fail to reach significant segments of communities, the so-called ‘hard-to-reach’. This paper describes the development of an innovative participatory GIS methodology specifically aimed at overcoming the barriers to engagement experienced by these groups. The application of the method is illustrated with reference to three recent case studies carried out in UK cities. The paper will then discuss the novelty of this approach in comparison with other participatory engagement techniques. The ethical implications of the technique are also discussed.

Keywords: Participatory Geographic Information Systems; UK; inclusive urban design; urban regeneration; ‘hard-to-reach’ communities

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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