Constructing neighborhoods from the bottom up: The case for resident-generated GIS

E. Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


As in other areas of planning practice, the use of GIS in neighborhood planning has assumed a technical top-down approach. Given the fact that GIS are essentially about providing and analyzing spatial data, it is difficult to envision how their use in local communities could be construed otherwise. In this paper I make a case for the need to channel intellectual energy into developing an approach and methodology for resident-generated GIS. Specifically I argue that there is a need to exploit GIS in the investigation of residents' perceptions of local neighborhood environments. I explore this approach in five sections. First, I present a definition of resident-generated GIS and position it within the larger debate on public participation GIS. Second, I offer a review of the current use of GIS in local neighborhood communities. This consists of an empirical assessment of neighborhood GIS as well as a critique of community GIS from the perspective of scholars in planning and geography. Third, I review the theoretical background that is integral to-and must form the basis of-a resident-generated GIS. Three theoretical traditions are relevant: environmental perception; indigenous information and its use in GIS; and neighborhood-level issues that could be enlightened through the use of GIS. Fourth, I propose a methodological framework for constructing and utilizing resident-generated GIS. Fifth, I discuss the political implications of a resident-generated GIS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-554
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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