Authors: Francesco Tonini, PhD, GISP; Douglas Shoemaker, PhD; Vaclav Petrav, PhD; Anna Petrasova, PhD; Helena Mitasova, PhD; Ross K. Meentemeyer, PhDDownload Presentation (.pptx)
The past decade has seen a cross-disciplinary push for researchers to leverage participatory approaches that facilitate stakeholder engagement and improve the development of collective management strategies. Geospatial technologies are well suited to enhance participatory best practices by offering stakeholders a suite of tools to investigate and better understand spatial interactions across multiple scales. However, the use of specialized computational environments can represent a barrier to understanding of complex problems for both professionals and the lay public participants, thus impeding the discussion of competing interests and perspectives. Tangible Landscape, a free and open source collaborative geospatial modeling environment, was used in this study to engage a group of role-played stakeholders and explore alternative ideas on how to manage a forest disease, sudden oak death (SOD), caused by the invasive generalist pathogen Phytophthora ramorum. Tangible Landscape provided the degree of information density and realism needed for roleplaying stakeholders to 1) quickly and intuitively learn the salient details of a complex epidemiological spread model 2) virtually place participants into the landscape and allow their decision making to be geographically and contextually informed, 3) quickly developing and testing alternative management strategies, often by observing and learning from other participants, and 4) receive near-real time feedback as to the efficacy of their actions over time. We argue that tangible geospatial modeling frameworks offer novel, intuitive, and creative ways to quickly explore alternative ideas on how to manage a disease and place stakeholders in a powerful shared environment for communicating with each other and solving problems.