Maptionnaire Community Engagement Platform is a map-based service for cities, consultancies, and research organizations enabling public engagement and insights for decision making. At its core are map-based tools for designing surveys, collecting data, and conveying information.
Problems and Purpose
Maptionnaire is a software-as-a-service that integrates survey questions with an interactive map. It enables efficient collecting, analyzing and visualization of map-based data. It is easy to make a Maptionnaire survey - and even easier to respond. With Maptionnaire’s browser tool, analysis and visualizations are easy to perform and share. The data can also be downloaded in formats supported by all major GIS software.
Not long ago, the creation and analysis of map-based questionnaires required considerable technological expertise. Maptionnaire allows the locality-based study of human experiences and the transfer of this knowledge into academic research and urban planning processes by anyone and just using a web browser.
The main user groups of the service comprise of research institutions, public agencies, consultancies and community engagement projects. Location matters, whether the aim is to study suburban youth, business traveling, real-estate management, infrastructure projects, hiking in national parks, or shopping experiences.
Origins and Development
The Maptionnaire service has evolved from the environmental psychology grounded SoftGIS methodology developed at Aalto University since 2005. Research themes studied with this methodology include for example environmental child-friendliness, perceived urban safety and accessibility of ecosystem services. The SoftGIS approach studies human behavior, but zooms closer into where exactly the experiences take place. Later on, SoftGIS developed into Maptionnaire, a commercialized service that allows anyone without any coding or GIS skills to create surveys and collect and analyze data.
How it Works
Maptionnaire works via a survey-specific URL. It can be disseminated to an unlimited and unspecified group of participants (e.g. via social media) or be made available only to a pre-selected group of participants.
Using the software, organizations, individuals and public officials can design surveys in order to collect map-based data. In effect, the survey may ask relatively open ended questions like "what neighbourhood improvements would you like?" Participants - in this case the residents of the neighbourhood - respond to the survey question with both a text-based answer and a GPS data-point. The process of consultation is thus streamlined: the survey-organizer gets two pieces of information while the respondent only has to answer one survey. Thanks to the built-in location recording software, respondents can focus on describing what's important (ie. what needs to be done) rather than where the problem is.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Maptionnaire surveys make new, relevant and important information on resident priorities available for local governments and other organizations. The integration of a geographic location to the responses from people elevates the value of the user input and enables efficient analyses and visualizations.
In the public service context, the use of Maptionnaire helps make planning processes and interaction with residents and other stakeholders smoother and more efficient, ultimately resulting in well-informed decision-making.
In academic research, Maptionnaire surveys help investigate place-specific human experiences to gather people-produced qualitative spatial data, e.g. active living environments or where one feels safe and where not.
So far, Maptionnaire has been used in numerous cities all over the world and appears to have been successful. It has been adopted by different entities including municipal authorities in Finland, an academic institution in Australia, and a community-based organization in Mauritius. Academic analysis of the tool's efficacy compared to other online participation and public feedback software has yet to be performed.