How do you encourage and inspire community participation in geographic dialogues? The emergent ideas of the Geospatial Web and its potential uses form the basis of enquiry for The Participatory Geoweb; an umbrella project begun in 2008 with funding from GEOIDE (Geomatics for Informed Decisions). During its period of activity, The Particpatory Geoweb, under the direction of Dr. Renée Sieber of McGill’s Department of Geography, has participated in and supported projects at a regional, national and international level. Its partners include the University of British Columbia, University College London and Ryerson.
As an umbrella organization, the Participatory Geoweb considered two primary goals; firstly to inspire public participation in the use of geospatial tools to examine and interrogate environmental phenomena such as global warming, and secondly, the development of tools that allowed the use of complicated climate models by non-scientific users. While the organization is now dormant, several of its projects, including the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan, are still actively spurring community involvement.
In addition to her duties as director, Dr. Sieber conducted a study of the uses of the Geoweb in community planning, in partnership with the Municipal Regional Council of Acton Vale, located in rural Québec. The project, begun in 2009, served to provide a dialogue channel between citizens of the municipality and their government, allowing the free discussion of proposed changes to water management policies and agricultural development in the region. Further information on this and other Geoweb projects may be found at http://rose.geog.mcgill.ca/geoide/