GIScience Research Group

GIScience Portfolio

Our research investigates technology based approaches for planning engagement. This includes visualization of plans and models used to develop them, and approaches for presenting planning support material that help inform citizens, and provide web-based opportunities for citizens and other stakeholders to engage in decision making regarding development.

Our research focuses on the development and evaluation of the following four themes: (a) 2D and 3D visualizations of possible planning scenarios and their anticipated effects; (b) provision of sketching tools for the creation of alternative plans; (c) education-focused Internet tools that provide information based on citizen input with regard to various impact scenarios; and (d) the development of geospatial infrastructure that enables (i) the management of user-generated content, (ii) the integration of volunteered geographic information (VGI) with existing geospatial resources and models, and (iii) the development of a flexible, interoperable, and transparent system architecture that supports information sharing and decision-support capabilities using web based technologies.

Our work contributes innovative tools that can greatly assist Municipalities in their planning process, provide a meaningful way for citizens to be engaged in the process of planning their places, and make a unique contribution to planning processes that can be applied elsewhere.

At the neighbourhood and regional scales, the educational aspects of the tool will make it easier for citizens to understand how (and why) the existing urban context can be improved through the use of appropriate intensification, and also why much of Canada’s existing urban form is not ideal. Citizens often do not have time to learn about the material that planners present, and an objective of this research is to provide a more user-friendly, intuitive and educational way for people to become meaningfully engaged in the evolution of their local neighbourhood.

Group Profile

Current People

Andrew Hunter - Group Leader


My primary research interest falls within the domains of participatory planning and GIS. My current work focuses on the development of tools that enhance community engagement in the planning process. The work aims to make the various goals, objectives, and policies that reflect the intent of a typical community plan more accessible to citizens. We develop methodologies and systems that enhance citizen engagement through the integration of participatory planning, web based GIS, educational approaches for promoting voluntary learning, and model/tool development that promotes understanding and interpretation of planning policy. Within our research group we promote a free/libre open source (FLOSS) philosophy of participation and collaboration, and actively support the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA) through the Geo for All initiative.

My secondary research interest encompasses GIS themes relating dissemination of and access to spatial data. We investigate methods and tools that make use of recent advances in web and mobile technology to improve the scientific literacy of citizens through active participation in research projects; to provide scientists with access to richer, finer-grained data sets; and to promote grassroots participation in government and policy making.

From time to time I collaborate with colleagues undertaking research focusing on property rights and land tenure issues. I currently teach Land Use Planning, and Cadastral Studies and Land Tenure, at the undergraduate level, and various participatory GIS and spatial analysis courses at the graduate level.

Ehsan Mohammadi

Ehsan M.

The main focus of my research is about designing tools to enhance public participation in urban planning. Free sketching is the most appropriate way of interaction between human and computer in a web-mapping environment, where participants can convey their ideas by making simple mouse or finger moves. Interpretation of the sketches is the responsibility of the platform. To this end, my research is a combination of Human Computer Interaction, Participatory GIS, Web-mapping Services, Semantic Web, Urban Planning, Spatial Reasoning, Map Cognition and Cartography.

My other interests include: Spatial Databases, Spatial Analysis, Spatial Statistics and Spatial Data Analysis. Geo is my passion and I love to solve spatial problems and develop programs in this regard.

Coral Bliss-Taylor


My research focuses on participation in urban planning, specifically in assisting online participants. Online channels lack the face-to-face feedback and support of decision makers and experts who would be present at in-person meetings sch as town halls. To supplement this, I have designed and developed a prototype support tool that offers topical information about the potential impacts of planning styles and strategies that participants consider. The tool is an online application designed to compliment an online participation platform. My other research interests include all manners of sustainable urban planning topics, including traditional (in-person) engagement and PGIS, solar housing, urban agriculture, urban design, landscape and ecological planning, and energy and environment in general.

Ebrahim Poorazizi


I am an award-winning geospatial software architect and developer with several years of experience in academia and industry. During this time, I have worked in a number of different application development areas for geospatial technologies such as Geospatial SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture), the Sensor Web, Web Mapping, Geoprocessing, and VGI (Volunteered Geographic Information). I am passionate about the creation of user-friendly and interactive GeoWeb applications using free and open-source software (FOSS) packages and open data.

At the moment, I am a researcher with the GIScience Group, Department of Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary. I have been working with a team of researchers on the PlanYourPlace project, which aims to build an open-source structure of modern web-based solutions to support planning practice that engages communities. As a part of my research, I am also working on the development of a new, open geospatial infrastructure for disaster management, which aims to incorporate VGI as a complementary source of information and enable real-time geospatial modeling on the web to improve planning and decision-making during a disaster.


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Contact Information

Dr. Andrew Hunter PhD PEng RPSurv
   Department of Geomatics Engineering
   University of Calgary
   Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4

+ (403) 220-7377

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