Research on maps and technology for public benefit

Waterloo Civic Map Lab logo heart and map

The Waterloo Civic Map Lab is a research team focused on how geospatial technologies and data are used to meet the needs of community, government, and civic organizations. Student researchers at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, post-doctoral) work to create applied and theoretical research that matters - understanding the challenges, benefits, and issues created by civic technologies.

The Waterloo Civic Map Lab is led by Dr. Peter Johnson, in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management (GEM). Recent projects focus on understanding the value of government open data, the integration of volunteered geographic information in government, and citizen participation in smart city projects.

If you are interested in joining us, please take a look at the topics we research, recent blog posts, and these instructions to prospective students.


Recent contribution from Dr. Peter Johnson to the Ontario Professional Planners Institute professional publication Y Magazine. Lead by Dr. Pamela Robinson and Morgan Boyco, this article addresses how participatory technology intervenes in the process of citizen engagement in planning. Given the broad adoption of digital platforms, how do planners wrestle with the challenges and constraints of this technology? Check out the full article starting on page 29.

Ontario Professional Planners Institute magazine
Digital public participation: The complicated ways that technology platforms both help and challenge planners.

I am pleased to announce that a recent book chapter, co-authored with co-op student Christine Varga, has recently been published in the edited volume "The Future of Open Data", edited by Teresa Scassa and Pamela Robinson (University of Ottawa Press). Our chapter investigates the barriers and challenges to the use of open data by private sector companies, including start-ups in the Waterloo/Kitchener-Toronto tech corridor. I am grateful to SSHRC and the Geothink Partnership Grant for providing funding for this work.

Congratulations to lab members and colleagues for the recent publication of an entire special issue in The Canadian Geographer on Smart Citizens creating Smart Cities! This special issue had its beginning in a special session at the 2019 AAG in Washington. With the editorship of Dr. Rina Ghose and myself "..the six papers collected in this special section aim to open a discourse to address these questions, presenting conceptual and applied perspectives.