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Geovisualizing Municipalities: What do Cartographic Tools on Local Authorities’ Websites Stand For?

Authors: Julien Mathias*, Université de Cergy-Pontoise
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Urban and Regional Planning, Cartography
Keywords: Geovisualization, GIS, Webmapping, Authorities (local)
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In a context of political disaffection towards public authorities, digital access to public administration is increasingly considered as a decisive component of the relationship between governments and citizen. This paper questions this relation through the prism of cartographic tools inserted into local authorities’ websites, in order to facilitate the access or participation to various information, services and activities. It focuses on the urban area of Paris, the Ile-de-France region, where municipalities are highly contrasted in terms of size and IT capacities. It draws on the comparative analysis of 369 websites, exploring the design of the cartographic tools displayed and the visualization of the city or town’s territory at play.

In this paper, I will show how heterogeneous the spread of such digital tools is, as well as the use of various forms of webmapping and their purpose. Local government turn out to be particularly unequal in terms of geovisualization techniques, in relationship with selective use of cartographic solutions provided by big and small players. The easiness of access to cartographic tools on these websites is also very variable, pointing to enduring invisibility of geographical information in the ordinary contact with citizen for certain governments. The study will show however a certain mainstreaming of the geoweb for local governements as a whole but also the lack of a dominant standard in their geovisualizations. Such situation shows the strong potential and as well the uncertainty attached to the future of these tools.

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