Local ground: A paper-based toolkit for documenting local geo-spatial knowledge

Sarah Van Wart*, K. Joyce Tsai, Tapan Parikh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

26 Scopus citations


Comprehensive spatial knowledge is vital for making good planning decisions - whether it be for planning infrastructure, public projects or addressing other community needs. Often it is the local residents themselves who have the most current and accurate understanding of the uses and condition of any place. Including diverse voices is difficult in the planning process, as many local groups do not have access to the same technologies as larger institutional actors. To address their needs, we have developed Local Ground: a tool that allows local residents to document their personal knowledge of places using simple bar-coded paper maps, computer vision techniques and free, publicly available mapping and charting tools. Users annotate paper maps using simple pens, markers and stamps. These maps are scanned and aggregated online, where they can be analyzed and overlaid on information obtained from other knowledge sources, allowing local perspectives to influence planning decisions. We tested Local Ground with a group of high school youth involved in an urban revitalization project in a low-income neighborhood in Richmond, California. Students and teachers found our tools to be portable, fun, collaborative, and easy to learn. In this paper we describe the Local Ground toolkit, including its strengths as a geospatial data collection and dissemination tool, and some findings obtained from our initial field pilot in Richmond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 1st ACM Symposium on Computing for Development, DEV 2010
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Event1st ACM Symposium on Computing for Development, DEV 2010 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: Dec 17 2010Dec 18 2010


Other1st ACM Symposium on Computing for Development, DEV 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • ICTD
  • Internet mapping
  • Paper interfaces
  • Participatory GIS
  • Participatory planning
  • Rural development
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications


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