Map-Me ("Mapping Meanings") is an online Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) for the creation of online surveys for the collection of 'fuzzy' spatial data. Based upon a "spray and say" approach, Map-Me uses an 'airbrush' interface (the "Spraycan") to allow participant's to "spray-paint" on to a Google Map, in order to answer fuzzy spatial questions (e.g. "Where you think...?"). Free-text comments are also collected alongside spray patterns in order to add context (e.g. "What makes you think...?"), providing a technology to take account of the vagueness of interviewees' responses.
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Map-Me is a software project developed by Jonny Huck, Stephen Carver and Alan E. Watson, product of the collaboration between three institutions of the UK and the USA:
Use of Map-Me and information on this site is free at point of use. We kindly request that any written publication arising from the sole use of Map-Me include Jonny Huck and Stephen Carver as co-authors.
Map-Me goes beyond traditional ways of crowd-sourcing and in some respects is innovative among community-based GIS. The following is an outline of its main features:
Co-PI's: A. Watson (USDA Forest Service), R. Matt (CSKT Forestry Dept)
This study focused on an interface area between the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness and the non-wilderness valley floor, formally protected as a 'buffer zone'. The buffer zone was established to provide opportunities for multiple uses corresponding to both wilderness and non-wilderness, including cultural uses, home sites, recreation, and other consumptive and non-consumptive resource uses. One of the primary concerns within the buffer zone is the effect that fire suppression has had on the structure and general health of the forest. The current focus of resource managers is on how to reduce potentially hazardous fuel loads in the buffer zone. However, past proposals to reduce hazardous fuel loads in the buffer zone have failed due to lack of support among tribal members, especially for commercial thinning operations. The PPGIS study sought to provide a better documentation of how tribal and non-tribal residents viewed the buffer zone and how they might respond to new fuel treatment proposals in this area, collecting the data by a fuzziness-based PPGIS tool developed by Tim Waters ("Tagger") from which the concept of Map-Me evolved.
In the first phase of this study, knowledgeable key informants were interviewed to develop an understanding of the range and types of values attached to the buffer zone by tribal and non-tribal residents on the reservation. This led to the identification of 5 themes of meanings:
These themes were used as basis for a PPGIS survey. The objective was to understand how these meanings about the landscape are actually attached to places, together with the intensity of this attachment.
A composite map of all meanings for all users was also created. You can see from these maps that there were marked differences in the spatial pattern and intensity of meanings associated with the five themes, with areas in red having the highest intensity of meaning. Of the 5 themes, wilderness protection shows the greatest uniformity, perhaps as a result of the general view among respondents of the Buffer Zone as a policy zone with equal protection along its length. Hot spots within the recreation and personal/cultural theme maps reflect the nature of the access corridors. Plotted collectively, the perceived threats from fire are extensive and widely distributed. Tribal members described risks to cultural areas, the potential for catastrophic fire events, the presence of hazardous fuels, and fire-fighting activities as threatening to local place meanings. Even more intense and broadly distributed were the perceived threats from logging. Tribal members described this threat in terms that included loggers, large-scale logging, commercial logging, irresponsible logging, incompatible timber harvest, and so on.
The results provided an extremely rich resource for policy development in regard to landscape resource management. The final stage of the project concentrated on applying the newly gained knowledge about place meanings to decision-making about the Buffer Zone. Focus groups composed of tribal members met with the Forest Department staff who were proposing general fuel treatments in the buffer zone. These public perceptions represented priorities that managers could integrate with resource management objectives. Through these processes, healthier forests, renewed public trust, and protected natural and cultural resources for the Salish and Kootenai tribes may evolve.
Jonny is a Research Associate at the 'Imagination Lancaster' design laboratory at Lancaster University. He has extensive experience in geospatial software development and cartographic design. His interests include web mapping, fuzzy geography, geospatial visualization, and the application of new technologies to spatial analysis. He is the lead software developer for Map-Me.
Steve is a Geographer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Leeds. He has 25 years' experience in the field of GIS and multi-criteria evaluation with special interests in wild land, landscape evaluation and public participation. He has worked extensively on the development of wild land mapping and evaluation methodologies and has tested and applied these across a variety of locations and spatial scales including Scotland, England, Britain, Europe, and the USA.
Alan joined Forest Service Research in 1988 and has directed the social science program both before and since transformation of the US Forest Service Wilderness Research Work Unit to the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. Alan has represented the Leopold Institute three times on Fulbright appointments (Finland, Russia and Brazil), serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Wilderness, and he represents the Leopold Institute and partner agencies on the Executive Committee of the World Wilderness Congress.
Fernando is a Research Assistant in the Department of Geography at the University of Leeds. He specializes in providing software functionality for the synthesis, retrieval, mapping and analysis of vague information out of Public Participation GIS data, focusing on the processing of data collected by the Map-Me PPGIS tool. In so doing he is combining theoretical, methodological and technical principles of computational linguistics, GIScience and fuzziness for the implementation of multimodal geodata structures equipped with text, image and geospatial attributes.