ICTS and Inclusive Sustainable Development: GIS for Participatory Planning

Inclusive sustainable development requires the utilization of information and  communication technologies (ICTS). ICTS can help support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda to deliver improvement and innovation with health, education, business development, and participatory planning processes. Governments will need to focus planning processes, policies, and strategies to address the implications of rapid urbanization on already marginalized communities. Goal 11 of the SDGs aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Goal 11 aims is to ensure individual rights in urban centers are fully met, with universal access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation, and more. Collaborative and inclusive urban planning is necessary to ensure future individual rights are not violated. Technological innovations can be used to trace inequities in city planning efforts, such as GIS software, which I argue is a sub-category of the ICT field.

Geographic information systems (GIS) provide software programs that are “designed to capture, manage, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information.” These types of technologies can supplement ArcGIS is a mapping and analytic platform designed by Esri, a global leader in GIS technology. One of the main applications of GIS is urban planning, utilizing spatial databases, and analysis and modeling tools (Arc GIS) Furthermore, GIS planning solutions can be used for sustainable development initiatives such as improving the quality of life and portraying data in a visual context for easier decision making processes.

GIS services offer governments ability to readily access maps and capitalize on preexisting data to streamline knowledge accumulation needed for strategic decision making such as planning urban centers and implementing projects where multistakeholder collaboration is key to success. GIS technologies have also aided in community based planning processes that allow planners and citizens to test alternative development scenarios to determine future impacts. Citizen participation is improved through GIS technologies and provides mechanisms to further communicative planning. Communicative planning emphasizes the importance of multistakeholder dialogues for decentralized planning processes. Patsy Healey (1996) a prominent scholar in the field of communicative planning asserts the importance of decentralized and communicative planning processes:

“Knowledge is not reformulated but is specifically created anew in our communication through exchanging perceptions and understanding and through drawing on the stock of life experience and previously consolidated cultural and moral knowledge available to participants. We cannot, therefore, predefine a set of tasks that planning must address, since these must be specifically discovered, learnt about, and understood through intercommunicative processes.”

Examining potential consequences of urban planning is essential and GIS technologies allow for alternatives to be evaluated before actual implementation. Converging informational communication technology with GIS software can be beneficial for urban planners and bottom-up grassroots approaches for inclusive development.