Participatory methods: multimedia mapping

Multimedia mapping is close to the traditional method of transmitting information in spoken form and is suitable for both internal and external participants. Method increases community cohesion and capacity through new knowledge and skills. It includes questionnaires, interviews, participatory video, sound recordings, traditional music, language, or a description of the area through the stories of tribal elders. Created multimedia is subsequently connected to a digital map that can be stored online and offline mode.

Difficulty: technologically challenging and time consuming

Group size: small to medium

Required time: several days (including discussion), depending on the amount of collected information.

Links to other methods: This is mostly independent method.

The aim of this method is to obtain, collect and visualize spatial information that was previously transmitted primarily in verbal form. Mostly it is a intergenerational activity, when the collection of information contributes to the simultaneous involvement of younger generation (especially as operators of multimedia tools) and the older generation (especially as bearers of knowledge and information). An example might be when map showing photographs as historical places in your city, including a description and comments of witnesses (

History and Present

The development of this method is mainly linked with the development of the Internet and the increasing availability of multimedia devices.

The main advantages include the ability to store spatial information transmitted from generation to generation in oral form only (Pulsifer et al., 2011). This method is available regardless of literacy participating community.

Disadvantages lie in the financial and technical demands, it is also necessary to have trained staff to operate digital cameras and other devices. Due to its increased technical difficulty, this method may not be available or convenient to all members of the community involved.


  1. Clearly define the scope of the area and the time that you have to mapping.
  2. Invite the selected group to the meeting place or public meeting.
  3. Present the objectives of the project and the mapping method – explain why it is the most appropriate method chosen and how the results will be used further.
  4. Provide tools and training to perform basic work with a given device (GPS, camera, voice recorder, etc.).
  5. Collection of information – local archives, interviews with witnesses, etc. It is important is to assign each information a spatial component – the street of the city, location, etc.
  6. Allow enough time to learn how to use the technology.
  7. Post-process the results in PC, multimedia data should be linked with a map and data visualization.
  8. Presentation of results and subsequent group discussion.

Resources and tools

  • Anything more and you will record data – voice recorder, pens, camera.
  • PC
  • Paper for notes – refers to the facilitator.


The entire process is challenging technical literacy and requires further work with the data obtained. Therefore, it is recommended to allow enough time for technical preparation and planning. The method is suitable in combination with GPS mapping.

Examples experiences, literature, etc.

Borchert, A. (1999). Multimedia atlas concepts. In W. Cartwright, M. Peterson, & G. Gartner (Eds.), Multimedia Cartography (pp. 75-86). Berlin: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Pulsifer, PL, Laidler, GJ, Taylor, DRF, & Hayes, A. (2011). Towards an Indigenist data management program: reflections on experiences Developing an atlas of sea ice knowledge and use. Canadian Geographer / Le Geographe Canadien, 55 (1), 108-124.


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