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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Modeling place attachment using GIS Maguire, Bradley David


The PlaceInGIS project is a comprehensive examination of how places can be represented using modern Geographic Information System (GIS). After decades of research, geographers now understand that places are dynamic features, whose fuzzy boundaries change over time, subject to internal and external forces. The long-term goal of the PlaceInGIS project is to make people's understanding of place visible, comparable and amenable to analysis. Place attachment is a theoretical construct that permits the quantification, visualization and analysis of the importance of place. The method described makes use of two significant sub-components of place attachment, place dependence and place identity, to create fuzzy surfaces in a GIS. After conducting a detailed GPS mapping exercise of the Colliery Dam Park study area in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, 302 study participants were presented with a survey questionnaire between 2011 and 2012. The place attachment and place dependence components for each feature described were used to create "feature surfaces." These were then combined using a Fuzzy OR operator to generate a single "place attachment surface" for each individual, which can be compared against each other or summed to show the overall opinions of groups. In the short term, we are developing an application called the Place Analysis System (PAS), which enables places to be adequately represented. There are numerous applications for the PAS, as it creates a foundation for the comparative study of place. For the first time, it is possible to visualize, take measurements and analyze place attachment. What was once an ephemeral concept has been made concrete and amenable to study. The PAS can analyze fuzzy boundaries, or the fuzzy boundaries can be defuzzified to be more compatible with traditional representations of data in a GIS. We examine two applications of the PAS, one as a tool for site planning, and the other for the geographical analysis of core and periphery. These applications demonstrate the utility of the PAS, and we conclude by considering further applications and modifications to make the method easier to employ in future studies.

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