A Geo-Discussion is a web application comprised of a structured discussion forum coupled with an interactive map. The discussion forum allows adding a new thread, commenting on threads of others, subscribing to posts and threads, adding attachments, sorting, searching posts, and judging the posts by adding like and dislike reactions. Geo-discussion forums can be used to collect comments and ideas from residents about the draft of the local land use plan.

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Group size
6-30, 31 and more
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood, City
Skills required
Resources needed
Medium, High
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Involve, Collaborate
Type of knowledge enabled
Divergence (Small groups), Convergence - Small groups
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Planning & Design
Methodological approach
Expressive, Organisational, Political

How to use the method

The following contents are recommended in an online Geo-discussion panel:

  • A map-based overview of the target area/project, including textual discription. The interface of the map should allow users to measure distances and areas, search by address, filter objects within a selected area.
  • Thematic maps in different layers, and descriptions of the proposed plan(s) if the discussion focuses on future scenarios.
  • A section where participants can add new threads, comments, or propose their ideas.
  • A function of adding attachments, sorting, searching posts and judging the posts by adding like and dislike reactions.
  • An introduction of basic planning and public paticpation knowledge, and a guideline of how to use the panel.

Geo-discussion can not only be used as a method that initiates and collects participants’ comments and ideas, but also works as a mediator to present collected geo-comments and ideas to stakeholders.

What are the outcomes

  • Collection of public comments on stated area/project.
  • Building consensus on plan/scenario.

Skills required

Skills: average

  • Basic computer operation skills
  • Verbal skills of expressing opinion
  • Skill of understanding maps and locating specific targets on a map

Resources needed

Resources: medium, high

  • Resources and technical skills of developing a geo-discussion panel
  • Access to geographic data

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Stimulating public discussion
  • When the relationship between experts and citizens is felt to be hierachical, citizens are usually reluctant to express their opinions.[1]
  • Sometimes the required geographic data is expensive and hard to access.


Use cases

Łódź, Poland

In 2017, a Geo-discussion was carried out in Łódź, Poland to collect feedback on a implemented plan of public transportation system in the city. The Geo-discussion panel was open during a 12-day period between 9th and 20th of October 2017. This online discussion panel provided a base map to participants and allowed them to express their opinions by marking places and describing it in text.

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. [1] Van den Brink, A., Van Lammeren, R., Van de Velde, R., & Silke, D. Ã. (Eds.). (2007). Imaging the future: geo-visualisation for participatory spatial planning in Europe (Vol. 3). Wageningen Academic Publishers.
  2. [2] Jankowski, P., Czepkiewicz, M., Zwoliński, Z., Kaczmarek, T., Młodkowski, M., Bąkowska-Waldmann, E., ... & Walczak, D. (2019). Geoweb methods for public participation in urban planning: Selected cases from Poland. In Geospatial Challenges in the 21st Century (pp. 249-269). Springer, Cham.