By Gvantsa Khutsishvili (Georgia)
This study reports on research investigating the understanding of proximity during public participation processes in Kenya, focusing upon the spatial information knowledge-forming component of an EIA project. The research objective is to explore the impact of different types of Geo-visualizations on the understanding of proximity.
An ongoing project of EIA in Kenya was selected as the case study. The study focuses on how people understand proximity in relation to specific project requirements. The designed different Geo-visualizations (topographical, overlay, aerial) representations for the selected case study serve as a practical example concerning visual support in knowledge construction for future decision-making. This study considered the information about proximity that participants have to know before making a decision. Sixty nine representative respondents of mixed backgrounds, gender, education, previous map experiences and age were interviewed and asked to choose the map type, and subsequently to locate their houses on the map and estimate distance.
The results of the study showed that topographical map continues to be the most popular visualization among participants. There were no significant differences between different types of maps in understanding of proximity. However, the study showed the advantage of males for the use of the map and of female’s better knowledge of route distance. It was furthermore found that older participants understood better proximity by using the maps.
In conclusion, these results have implications for public participation. This study demonstrates that these are differences in gender and age; public participation should therefore aim to include a representative sample of social demographic groups of the case study area.
Keywords: Geo-visualization; proximity; public participation; spatial Knowledge; level of realism