Over two decades ago, the term “public participation geographic information systems” (PPGIS) was conceived at meetings of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) in the U.S. to describe how GIS technology could support public participation for a variety of applications. The term “PPGIS” originated in the United States, while the term “participatory GIS” or “PGIS” emerged from participatory approaches in rural areas of developing countries, a merger with Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods. The term volunteered geographic information (VGI) was introduced by Goodchild (2007) to describe the harnessing of tools to create, assemble, and disseminate geographic data provided voluntarily by individuals.
Despite the exponential growth in the use of participatory spatial methods variously described as PPGIS, PGIS, or VGI, there has not been a major conference or gathering bringing together major ideas and participants in these fields. The Participatory Mapping/GIS 2017 Conference will, for the first time, bring together an international community of scholars, planners, and practitioners to present state-of-the-knowledge and to develop pathways for more effective use of spatial methods and technologies for community engagement, empowerment, and effective planning and management of land/marine resources.