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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Participating on the geoweb : evaluating the effectiveness of the geoweb for supporting participation in environmental governance issues in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia Allen, Patrick M.


The Geospatial Web (Geoweb) is taking an increasingly important role as a tool for supporting participation in governance. For the purposes of this study, web-based participatory tools, including a web portal, forums, blogs and a discussion map application now called Geolive, were developed to support collaborative planning efforts on environmental governance issues in the Okanagan basin of British Columbia. These tools were used to evaluate how effective the Geoweb is as a participatory tool for supporting environmental governance issues. A participatory action research approach, utilizing mixed qualitative methods, including surveys and focus groups, was used to involve project participants and gather their feedback on the design, development and usability of these web-based tools. The 20 participants involved in the study consisted of representatives from local, provincial and federal government, as well as local non-government organizations, the university and professional biologists. Preparation and refinement of the web-based participatory tools developed for the research extended throughout the timeframe of the study and as a result the project participants did not use them directly to support local-level environmental governance efforts. Thus, the effectiveness of the Geoweb for the purposes of participants in this study could not fully be determined. The research does however identify key concerns and suggestions regarding the design and development of effective web-based participatory tools. The findings are categorized and discussed based on the following themes: usability, technological capacity, cost, information abundance and credibility. Through the review of these themes in relation to current literature, this research provides insight into the concerns and issues associated with the effectiveness of Geoweb as a participation tool for environmental governance purposes. The research also contributes to the broader discussion of the sustainability of the Geoweb and of optimum technology design considerations for developing the Geoweb.

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