An Evaluation of Internet Versus Paper-based Methods for Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS)


Amy Pocewicz, The Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Chapter, 258 Main St., Suite 200, Lander, WY 82520, USA. E-mail:


Public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) are an increasingly important tool for collecting spatial information about the social attributes of place. The availability of Internet-based options for implementing PPGIS presents new opportunities for increased efficiency and new modes of access. Here we used a mixed-mode approach to evaluate paper versus Internet mapping methods for the same PPGIS survey in Wyoming. We compared participant characteristics, mapping participation, and the spatial distribution of mapped attributes between participants who responded to the paper versus Internet option. The response rate for those who completed the paper version of the survey was nearly 2.5 times the response rate of the Internet version. Paper participants also mapped significantly more places than did Internet participants (43 vs. 18). Internet participants tended to be younger, more likely to have a college degree, and had lived in the region for less time than paper participants. For all but one attribute there was no difference in the spatial distribution of places mapped between Internet and paper methods. Using a paper-based PPGIS survey resulted in a higher response rate, reduced participant bias, and greater mapping participation. However, survey mode did not influence the spatial distribution of the PPGIS data.