FIG Commission 3 - Spatial Information Management

Working Group - Joint Commission 3 and 8
GIS Tools for Spatial Planning

Policy Issues

GIS tools hold great potential to support spatial planning practice. Ongoing developments in digitalization of data sets and communities further open up possibilities to apply GIS tools in spatial planning processes. The latter typically follow a cyclic pattern: (1) development of spatial policies, (2) policy implementation, and (3) monitoring and evaluation. Spatial policies range from strategic visions to land use plans that at operational level determine and distribute land use types. Together with legislation and rules, these spatial policies constitute the framework for implementation of spatial policies. Programmes, projects, enforcement mechanisms and the like can be used to implement spatial policies, depending on the situational context. Finally, monitoring and evaluation is necessary to measure whether policy aims are met or need to be adapted, which may lead to the development of new spatial policies.

Figure: Spatial planning cycle

Due to the different nature of each phase in the cycle, GIS tools to support spatial planning practice will require different data specifications, functionality and usability features. This working group aims to gain a better understanding of developing useful GIS tools given a particular planning exercise, based on the different phases in the spatial planning cycle. Having appropriate and user friendly GIS tools available will create a positive spin-off in terms of enhancing information transparency and increase inclusiveness among participating stakeholders.



Enrico Rispoli, Italy

Adriana Czarnecka, Polen

Specific topics

  • Examine current GIS tools used in spatial planning practice and consider the potential role for future applications.
  • Develop guidelines based on best practices regarding data standards, functionality and usability of GIS tools.
  • Encourage the use of spatial information and public participation in spatial planning by using e-government.
  • Foster transparency, inclusiveness and legal certainty in decision-making by providing tools for stakeholders to access information and participate in spatial planning processes.


What we are working on -

  • Website or other interactive digital platform to provide the results of the GIS tools analysis.
  • FIG publication: GIS tools for spatial planning – Best practices and guidelines.

What's New

Focus: Available GIS tools for spatial planning, in particular participative processes, to encourage transparent, participatory, and inclusive decision-making.

The first draft of its study ‘GIS tools for participatory planning, an exploratory study on internationally available tools’ was published in 2019 as a result of the work carried out by working group 8.2. This will be followed up in 2020 by the respective working group. Focus will lie on a more in-depth analysis of various promising tools that can be used in a participatory context.