The digital workshop: exploring the use of interactive and immersive visualisation tools in participatory planning

J Environ Manage. 2009 May;90(6):2090-101. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.08.023. Epub 2008 Jun 16.


This paper examines the emerging role of digital tools in a collaborative planning process for British Columbia's Bowen Island. The goal of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 'digital workshop', combining the interactive CommunityViz tool with the immersive lab facilities at the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP). In support of the larger community planning process, two 3-h workshops were held at CALP's Landscape Immersion Lab. To facilitate collaborative exploration, the interactive landscape visualisation and real-time data analysis capabilities of CommunityViz were employed to illustrate the possible outcomes of residential density policies for Bowen Island's Snug Cove community. The community planning workshops were structured to provide the 14 semi-expert participants with the opportunity to explore and discuss the contentious residential density components of the draft Snug Cove Village Plan. The abilities to dynamically explore the visualisations of the planning proposals, and to see real-time changes in indicator metrics were considered particularly informative, and appeared to increase participants' understanding of the plan. Written and verbal responses indicated, however, that there was insufficient time to examine and interact with the information during the workshop, suggesting a need to examine in greater depth how and when these tools might best be employed in collaborative settings. Current and future research relating to this project is discussed.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • British Columbia
  • Community Participation*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Humans
  • Planning Techniques*