Communication with Residents is Key in Solving Urban Challenges: Maarit Kahila at the ISOCARP Spotlight Podcast

May 22, 2023
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What’s the potential of participatory planning? What is the role of digital tools in this process?  Maarit Kahila, CEO and co-founder of Maptionnaire, joins the ISOCARP Spotlight podcast to discuss citizen engagement and her experiences as an entrepreneur in the urban planning sphere. 

Maarit isocarp

What you’ll learn from the podcast: 

  1. What made Maarit go on a mission to encourage public participation in urban planning;
  2. How Maptionnaire has grown from a research project into an international business (and what environmental psychology has to do with it);
  3. What the key benefits of Maptionnaire are (spoiler: broader reach and good-quality GIS data ready to be analyzed); 
  4. How Helsinki’s masterplan was developed together with residents;
  5. How citizen engagement tools help cities solve the challenges of green transition and rapid urbanization.

Maarit also discusses the appropriate use of digital citizen engagement platforms. Because the tool in itself is not going to be enough to reach your goals. So for getting the most out of community engagement, you should: 

  • market the activity (the more channels you use — and not only social media — the more representative the data will be); 
  • make it possible for diverse groups to be a part of the activity (include translations in all the relevant languages and purposefully connect with usually underrepresented communities); 
  • don’t cherry-pick the data (don’t just pick points from the data that support your own thinking);  
  • make sure that open data collection can be misused by biased respondents (it rarely happens but monitoring data as you collect it should help).  
When we just started, no one in the planning world knew about citizen engagement, and those who did found it boring. Now planners are open to these ideas and they understand that it’s the way to go forward.
Maarit Kahila for ISOCARP Spotlight

The ISOCARP Spotlight is a monthly podcast of the International Society of City and Regional Planners, where its guests exchange knowledge to work towards more sustainable futures for our cities and their regions. Maptionnaire is a part of the ISOCARP community, and as Maarit has noted, we especially value ISOCARP for the opportunity to exchange ideas and knowledge with both academics and practitioners. Learn about joining ISOCARP here.

P.S. Maarit has also been to BABLE’s Smart in The City Podcast with Johanna Palomäki from the City of Lahti. Check more about this Smart in The City episode here.

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