The study of Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) focuses on the use of GIS by non-experts and regular citizens, which requires that such systems be accessible and easy to use. Review of PPGIS literature reveals, however, a lack of documented research about how non-expert users and the general public are using PPGIS tools. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) principles are drawn upon and a rigorous set of usability evaluation procedures are designed to empirically evaluate the usability and user acceptance of the Web-based PPGIS. Evaluation results confirm that it is not only an effective communication platform, but also a useful participatory tool that encourages participants to be more involved in land use planning procedures. Studies also show that by enhancing usability, lowering the cost of entry, and providing effective communication channels would result in greater user acceptance of the PPGIS technology.

The main aim of this research is to come out with a design and develop a prototype system that can detect the usability problems and alert the developer to make changes to the system prior to the public participatory planning process with the agenda to support as well as increase public involvement in planning. The system will integrate technologies in a unique and cohesive system to increase public awareness and involvement, ultimately taking serous part in the decision making. The proposed system will be consisting of the integration of an open source Web-PPGIS with Agent-based modeling (ABM) as the usability testing mechanism. ABM approach can be used to test the usability of the Web-PPGIS system by considering users as individual agents with different behaviour characteristics and evaluate how each agent respond to the system and what group behaviour they may generate.

Funding: Universiti Utara Malaysia

Advisors: Dr Yan Liu, Assoc Prof Greg Brown

Project members