Geo-Technologies for Spatial Knowledge: Challenges for Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development

  • Karin Pfeffer
  • Javier Martinez
  • David O’Sullivan
  • Dianne Scott


Critical to governance for sustainable and inclusive urban development is access to, and management of, relevant contextual spatial knowledge. Digital geo-technologies such as geographical information systems, online applications and spatial simulation models are increasingly becoming embedded in urban governance processes to produce, utilize, exchange, and monitor contextual knowledge and create scenarios for the future. This chapter provides a comprehensive state-of-the-art review of geo-technologies for spatial knowledge production and management for urban governance focusing on (1) the kinds of geo-technologies that feature in the urban governance area; (2) the discourses with respect to geo-technologies in urban governance processes; (3) the kinds of knowledge produced, used, exchanged, and contested in relation to quality of life, economic development and the ecosystem; and (4) the transformative potential of geo-technologies in urban governance processes. Through this review it draws out the capacities and challenges of geo-technologies for inclusive and sustainable urban development.


Geo-technologies Urban governance Participatory GIS Remote sensing 



We would like to thank Richard Sliuzas and Stan Geertman for their constructive comments, and Thomas Kemper, Martino Paresi and Richard Sliuzas for their contributions to Box 8.1 and Fig. 8.8.


  1. Aalbers MB (2005) Place‐based social exclusion: redlining in the Netherlands. Area 37(1):100–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen J, Massey D, Pile S (eds) (1998) City worlds. Taylor and Francis, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Atzmanstorfer K, Resl R, Eitzinger A, Izurieta X (2014) The GeoCitizen-approach: community-based spatial planning – an Ecuadorian case study. Cartogr Geogr Inf Sci 41(3):248–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aydinoglu AC, Yomralioglu T (2010) A harmonised GI model for urban governance. Proc ICE-Munic Eng 163(2):65–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Badger E (2013) A day in the life of 3 million London commuters, in 1 minute. Available via Accessed 18 Mar 2015
  6. Bannister F, Connolly R (2012) Defining e-governance. E-Serv J 8(2):3–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Batty M (1997) The computable city. Int Plan Stud 2(2):155–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Batty M (2005) Cities and complexity: understanding cities with cellular automata, agent-based models, and fractals. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Batty M, Axhausen KW, Giannotti F, Pozdnoukhov A, Bazzani A, Wachowicz M, … Portugali Y (2012) Smart cities of the future. Eur Phys J-Spec Top 214(1):481–518Google Scholar
  10. Baud I, Sridharan N, Pfeffer K (2008) Mapping urban poverty for local governance in an Indian mega-city: the case of Delhi. Urban Stud 45(7):1385–1412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Baud I, Kuffer M, Pfeffer K, Sliuzas RV (2010) Understanding heterogeneity in metropolitan India: the added value of remote sensing data for analyzing sub – standard residential areas. Int J Appl Earth Obs 12(5):359–374Google Scholar
  12. Baud I, Pfeffer K, Scott D, Denis E, Sydenstricker-Neto J (2014a) Participatory ‘spatial’ knowledge management configurations in metropolitan governance networks for SD. Thematic report, WP5. Chance2Sustain EADI, Bonn. Available via Accessed 14 Mar 2015
  13. Baud I, Scott D, Pfeffer K, Sydenstricker-Neto J, Denis E (2014b) Digital and spatial knowledge management in urban governance: emerging issues in India, Brazil, South Africa, and Peru. Habitat Int 44:501–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bhaskaran S, Paramananda S, Ramnarayan M (2010) Per-pixel and object-oriented classification methods for mapping urban features using ikonos satellite data. Appl Geogr 30(4):650–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bhatta B (2009) Modelling of urban growth boundary using geoinformatics. Int J Digit Earth 2(4):359–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Blaschke T, Hay GJ, Weng Q, Resch B (2011) Collective sensing: integrating geospatial technologies to understand urban systems – an overview. Remote Sens 3(8):1743–1776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Borning A, Waddell P, Förster R (2008) Urbanism: using simulation to inform public deliberation and decision-making. In: Chen H, Brandt L, Gregg V, Traunmäller R, Dawes S, Hovy E, Larson C (eds) Digital government: E-government research, case studies, and implementation. Springer, Berlin, pp 439–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bugs G, Granell C, Fonts O, Huerta J, Painho M (2010) An assessment of public participation GIS and web 2.0 technologies in urban planning practice in Canela, Brazil. Cities 27(3):172–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Burrough PA, McDonnell R (1998) Principles of geographical information systems, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  20. Cadora E (2006) Open society. Crim Just Matters 64(1):20–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Campbell H (1992) Impact of geographic information systems on local government. Comput Environ Urban Syst 16:531–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Caquard S (2013) Cartography II: collective cartographies in the social media era. Prog Hum Geogr 38(1):141–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Castells M (1996) The rise of the network society. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  24. Chainey S, Ratcliffe J (2005) GIS and crime mapping. Wiley, ChichesterCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Cinderby S (2010) How to reach the ‘hard-to-reach’: the development of participatory geographic information systems (P-GIS) for inclusive urban design in UK cities. Area 42(2):239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Cinderby S, Snell C, Forrester J (2008) Participatory GIS and its application in governance: the example of air quality and the implications for noise pollution. Local Environ 13:309–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Cinnamon J, Schuurman N (2013) Confronting the data-divide in a time of spatial turns and volunteered geographic information. GeoJournal 78(4):657–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Crampton JW (2004) GIS and geographic governance. Cartographica 39(1):41–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Curry M (1997) Digital places: living with geographic information technologies. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Dammers E, Evers D (2008) Beyond heuristics: applying scenarios to European territorial development. Tijdschr Econ Soc Ge 99(5):629–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Dangermond J (1982) The process of designing an urban geographic information system. The case of Anchorage. Comput Environ Urban Syst 7(4):301–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Dunn CE (2007) Participatory GIS—a people’s GIS? Prog Hum Geogr 31(5):616–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Elwood S (2006) Critical issues in participatory GIS: deconstructions, reconstructions, and new research directions. Trans GIS 10(5):693–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Elwood S (2009) Geographic information science: new geovisualization technologies – emerging questions and linkages with GIScience research. Prog Hum Geogr 33(2):256–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Elwood S, Leszczynski A (2011) Privacy, reconsidered: new representations, data practices, and the geoweb. Geoforum 42(1):6–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Elwood S, Leszczynski A (2013) New spatial media, new knowledge politics. T I Br Geogr 38(4):544–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ethekwini Municipality (2015) Geographic information systems. Available via Accessed 24 Mar 2015
  38. Gabrys J (2014) Programming environments: environmentality and citizen sensing in the smart city. Environ Plann D 32(1):30–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Geertman S, Stillwell J (eds) (2009) Planning support systems – best practice and new methods. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  40. Geertman S, Toppen F, Stillwell J (eds) (2013) Planning support systems for sustainable urban development. Springer, Berlin/HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  41. Ghose R (2003) Community participation, spatial knowledge production, and GIS use in inner-city revitalization. J Urban Technol 10(1):39–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ghose R (2007) Politics of scale and networks of association in public participation GIS. Environ Plann A 39(9):1961–1980CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Goodchild M (2007) Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography. GeoJournal 69(4):211–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Goodchild MF (2011) Challenges in geographical information science. P Roy Soc A-Math Phy 467, 2431–2443. doi: 10.1098/rspa.2011.0114
  45. Google (2015) Our map of environmental justice. Available via Accessed 18 Mar 2015
  46. Graham M (2011) Time machines and virtual portals: the spatialities of the digital divide. Prog Dev Stud 11(3):211–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hagen E (2011) Mapping change: community information empowerment in Kibera (innovations case narrative: Map Kibera). Innovations 6(1):69–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Haklay M (2013) Neogeography and the delusion of democratisation. Environ Plann A 45(1):55–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Harley JB (1989) Deconstructing the map. Cartographica 26(2):1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Harris R, Longley P (2004) Using geodemographic and lifestyles data to target clusters of deprivation or affluence within cities. In: Clarke G, Stillwell J (eds) Applied GIS and spatial analysis. Wiley, Chichester, pp 89–110Google Scholar
  51. Hernández D (1994) Qualitative representation of spatial knowledge. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Hoetjes P, Bertolini L, Le Clercq F (2006) Towards market-conscious planning in Amsterdam: a portfolio approach. Plann Pract Res 21(2):179–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Joshi P, Sen S, Hobson J (2002) Experiences with surveying and mapping pune and sangli slums on a geographical information system (GIS). Environ Urban 14(2):225–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Kennedy L, Robbins G, Scott D, Sutherland C, Denis E, Andrade J, Bon B (2011) The politics of large-scale economic and infrastructure projects in fast-growing cities of the south. Literature review. Chance2Sustain EADI, BonnGoogle Scholar
  55. Kitchin R (2014) The real-time city? Big data and smart urbanism. GeoJournal 79(1):1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Kitchin R, Dodge M (2007) Rethinking maps. Prog Hum Geogr 31(3):331–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Klein U, Müller H (2012) Local spatial data infrastructure, a solid base for sustainable land management in Germany. Surv Land Inf Sci 72(1):17–27Google Scholar
  58. Koti FT (2010) Confronting sociospatial exclusion on the fringe of Africa’s cities using participatory GIS: lessons from Athi River Town, Kenya. Afr Today 56(3):62–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Kyttä M, Broberg A, Tzoulas T, Snabb K (2013) Towards contextually sensitive urban densification: location-based softGIS knowledge revealing perceived residential environmental quality. Landsc Urban Plann 113:30–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Lillesand TM, Kiefer RW (2000) Remote sensing and image interpretation. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  61. Lin W (2013) Digitizing the dragon head, geo-coding the urban landscape: GIS and the transformation of China’s urban governance. Urban Geogr 34(7):901–922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Livengood A, Kunte K (2012) Enabling participatory planning with GIS: a case study of settlement mapping in Cuttack, India. Environ Urban 24(1):77–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Makau J, Dobson S, Samia E (2012) The five-city enumeration: the role of participatory enumerations in developing community capacity and partnerships with government in Uganda. Environ Urban 24(1):31–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Martin D (2009) Census mapping. In: Thrift N, Kitchin R (eds) International encyclopaedia of human geography. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 12–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Martínez J (2009) The use of GIS and indicators to monitor intra-urban inequalities. A case study in Rosario. Argent Habitat Int 33(4):387–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Martínez JA, Pfeffer K, van Dijk T (2011) E-government tools, claimed potentials – unnamed limitations : the case of Kalyan – Dombivli. Environ Urban Asia 2(2):223–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Masser I, Ottens H (1999) Urban planning and geographic information systems. In: Stillwell J, Geertman S, Openshaw S (eds) Geographical information systems and planning. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 25–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Massey D (2005) For space. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  69. Maynooth University (2015) Dublin dashboard city intelligence. Available via Accessed 18 Mar 2015
  70. McCall MK, Dunn CE (2012) Geo-information tools for participatory spatial planning: fulfilling the criteria for ‘good’ governance? Geoforum 43(1):81–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. McCall MK, Martínez JA, Verplanke JJ (2015) Shifting boundaries of volunteered geographic information systems and modalities: learning from PGIS. ACME 14(3): in pressGoogle Scholar
  72. McGill University (2015) The participatory geoweb. Available via Accessed 4 Apr 2015
  73. Miranda Sara L, Baud I (2014) Knowledge-building in adaptation management: concertación processes in transforming Lima water and climate change governance. Environ Urban 26(2):1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Miscione G, Martinez J, Pfeffer K, De’ R (2013) Openness may not mean democratization: e-grievance systems in their consequences. Paper presented at 14th N-AERUS/GISDECO Conference, Enschede, 12–14 September 2013Google Scholar
  75. Monmonier M (1996) How to lie with maps, 2nd edn. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Mukherjee F, Ghose R (2012) Exploring the complexities of community engaged GIS. Int J Appl Geosp Res 3(4):87–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Mysuru City Corporation (2015) Complaint registration. Available via Accessed 24 Mar 2015
  78. Naseer MA, Bimal P, Vinod Kumar TM (2015) Participatory e-budgeting using GIS-based spatial decision support system: Kozhikode municipal corporation. In: Vinod Kumar TM (ed) E-governance for smart cities. Springer, Singapore, pp 307–350Google Scholar
  79. Nedovic-Budic Z (1999) Evaluating the effects of GIS technology: review of methods. J Plan Lit 13(3):284–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Nedovic-Budic Z (2000) Geographic information science implications for urban and regional planning. J Urban Reg Inf Syst Assoc 12(2):81–93Google Scholar
  81. Nedovic-Budic Z, Feeney MF, Rajabifard A, Williamson I (2004) Are SDIs serving the needs of local planning? Case study of Victoria, Australia and Illinois, USA. Comput Environ Urban Syst 28(4):329–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Odendaal N (2003) Information and communication technology and local governance: understanding the difference between cities in developed and emerging economies. Comput Environ Urban Syst 27(6):585–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. O’Sullivan D (2002) Toward micro-scale spatial modeling of gentrification. J Geogr Syst 4(3):251–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. O’Sullivan D (2006) Geographical information science: critical GIS. Prog Hum Geogr 30(6):783–791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. O’Sullivan D, Perry GLW (2013) Spatial simulation: exploring patterns and processes. Wiley-Blackwell, ChichesterCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Patel S, Baptist C (2012) Editorial: documenting by the undocumented. Environ Urban 24(1):3–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Patino JE, Duque JC (2013) A review of regional science applications of satellite remote sensing in urban settings. Comput Environ Urban Syst 37:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Pelzer P, Geertman S, van der Heijden R, Rouwette E (2014) The added value of planning support systems: a practitioner’s perspective. Comput Environ Urban Syst 48:16–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Pfeffer K, Deurloo MC, Veldhuizen EM (2012) Visualising postcode data for urban analysis and planning: the Amsterdam city monitor. Area 44(3):326–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Pfeffer K, Baud I, Denis E, Scott D, Sydenstricker-Neto J (2013) Participatory spatial knowledge management tools. Inform Commun Soc 16(2):258–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Pickels J (ed) (1995) Ground truth: the social implications of geographic information systems. The Guilford Press, New York/LondonGoogle Scholar
  92. Pickles J (2004) A history of spaces: cartographic reason, mapping, and the geo-coded world. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  93. Portugali J (2000) Self-organisation and the city. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Rakodi C (2003) Politics and performance: the implications of emerging governance arrangements for urban management approaches and information systems. Habitat Int 27(4):523–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Regiegroep Noordvleugel 2040 (2008) Metropoolregio Amsterdam. MRA, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  96. Regiomonitor Working Group (2015) Amsterdam regional monitor. Available via Accessed 24 Mar 2015
  97. Richter C (2014) Digital transformations in Indian cities: between paper list and GIS map. Phd thesis, University of Twente, EnschedeGoogle Scholar
  98. Richter C, Georgiadou Y (2014) Practices of legibility making in Indian cities: property mapping through geographic information systems and slum listing in government schemes. Inf Technol Dev 2:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Roche S (2014) Geographic information science I: why does a smart city need to be spatially enabled? Prog Hum Geogr 38(5):703–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Rose-Redwood RS (2006) Governmentality, geography, and the geo-coded world. Prog Hum Geogr 30(4):469–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Scharl A, Tochterman K (eds) (2007) The geospatial web: how geobrowsers, social software and the web 2.0 are shaping the network society. Springer, LondonGoogle Scholar
  102. Schuurman N (2009) Critical GIScience in Canada in the new millennium. Can Geogr-Geogr Can 53(2):139–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Scott D, Barnett C (2009) Something in the air: science, environment, and contentious urban politics in post–apartheid South Africa. Geoforum Spec Iss Polit Sci 40(3):373–382Google Scholar
  104. SDI (Slum Dwellers International) (2015) A global network of the urban poor. Available via Accessed 4 Apr 2015
  105. Sheppard E (2005) Knowledge production through critical GIS: genealogy and prospect. Cartographica 40(4):5–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Sim V, Sutherland C, Scott D (2015) Pushing the boundaries: urban edge challenges in the eThekwini Municipality. South Afr Geogr J (in press)Google Scholar
  107. Sisfoh (2015) Sistema de focalización de hogares. Available via Accessed 25 Mar 2015
  108. Sliuzas RV, Flacke J, Jetten VG (2013) Modelling urbanization and flooding in Kampala, Uganda. Paper presented at 14th N-AERUS/GISDECO Conference, Enschede, the Netherlands, 12–14 September 2013Google Scholar
  109. Söderström O (1996) Paper cities: visual thinking in urban planning. Cult Geogr 3(3):249–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. Steinitz C (2012) A framework for geodesign: changing geography by design. ESRI Press, RedlandsGoogle Scholar
  111. Sutherland C, Scott D, Hordijk M (2015) Urban governance in Durban, South Africa: a spatial perspective. Eur J Dev ResGoogle Scholar
  112. Taubenböck H, Kraff NJ (2014) The physical face of slums: a structural comparison of slums in Mumbai, India, based on remotely sensed data. J Housing Built Environ 29(1):15–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  113. Taylor L (2014) Sustainable data science for sustainable cities: big data and the challenge of urban development, opinion paper. Chance2Sustain EADI, BonnGoogle Scholar
  114. te Brömmelstroet M (2013) Performance of planning support systems: what is it, and how do we report on it? Comput Environ Urban Syst 41:299–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  115. Tulloch DL, Harvey F (2007) When data sharing becomes institutionalized: best practices in local government geographic information relationships. Urisa J 19(2):52–59Google Scholar
  116. van der Hoeven F, Wandl A (2015) Amsterwarm: mapping the landuse, health and energy-efficiency implications of the Amsterdam urban heat island. Building Serv Eng Res Technol 36(1):67–88Google Scholar
  117. van Teeffelen J, Baud I (2011) Exercising citizenship: invited and negotiated spaces in grievance redressal systems in Hubli–Dharwad. Environ Urban Asia 2(2):169–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  118. Vonk G, Geertman S, Schot P (2007) A SWOT analysis of planning support systems. Environ Plann A 39(7):1699–1714CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  119. Watson V (2013) African urban fantasies: dreams or nightmares? Environ Urban 26(1):1–17Google Scholar
  120. Wilson MW (2014) On the criticality of mapping practices: geodesign as critical GIS? Lands Urban PlanGoogle Scholar
  121. Wood D, Fels J, Krygier J (eds) (2010) Rethinking the power of maps. The Guilford Press, New York/LondonGoogle Scholar
  122. Zook M, Graham M, Shelton T, Gorman S (2010) Volunteered geographic information and crowdsourcing disaster relief: a case study of the Haitian earthquake. World Med Health Policy 2(2):7–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Pfeffer
    • 1
  • Javier Martinez
    • 2
  • David O’Sullivan
    • 3
  • Dianne Scott
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development StudiesAmsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)University of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  3. 3.College of Letters and ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.School of Built Environment and Development StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations