Karl Atzmanstorfer

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Scientific profile:

Karl Atzmanstorfer holds a MSc in Applied Geoinformatics and a MSc in Geography, History and Political/Social Sciences from Salzburg University. Additionally he has successfully completed classes in law, regional management and spanish.

His scientific interests focus on the use of GIS in Latin America. He worked on the application of GIS in Public Health Planning (internship at UNAN Leon, Nicaragua) and on the development of a GIS-model for environmental niche detection that was designed to support the diversification of tropical smallholder agriculture with high-value crops (master thesis at the International Center of Tropical Agriculture, CIAT, Colombia). Between 2007 and 2012 he was coordinating the postgraduate distance learning program UNIGIS in Latin America (www.unigis.net/quito). Futhermore he is giving support to the participatory capacity building initiativeAmazonGISnet, an indigenous-lead initiative for the local and regional planning of the Ecuadorian Amazon Provinces, and other community based (GIS-)projects in Ecuador.

These initiatives clearly showed the urgent need for developing new tools and methods for participatory urban and regional planning and the efficient management of spatially-related conflicts. Based on these experiences, the proposed PHD aims to merge geo-web technologies for building a common, interactive platform (the so-called GeoCitizen/GeoCiudadano) linking information on a neighborhood scale (= citizens' observations and perceptions on their living space) in order to provide the framework for individuals and communities to identify conflicts and offer solutions to themselves or other communities.


Research Cluster: Time and Process / Spatialization, Media and Society


PhD Thesis Topic: Community-based spatial planning with social geo-web platforms



Especially (but not exclusively) in Latin America, there is an urgent need for a new and innovative way to structure information and communication processes regarding spatial planning processes with a high level of usability for citizens at a neighborhood scale. Conflicts that have to be aimed with new participatory planning methodologies and tools tend to occur in following areas:

1.    Territorial management and public comunitarian services
2.    (Urban) Security
3.    Public and individual transport
4.    Public (Eco-) health management

Recently there have been developed participatory geo-portals that involucrate citizen in such processes, like www.fixmystreet.com that may be considered as best practice cases for this PHD.

The proposed methodology aim to merge geo-information technologies for building a common, interactive platform linking information on a neighborhood scale (= citizens’ observations and perceptions on their living space) and connecting communities and local initiatives in order to identify proper solutions for planning processes. The methodology should provide the framework for individuals and communities to identify conflicts which affect them in their neighborhoods and offer solutions to themselves or other communities. Solutions should be developed in a participatory process of online-consensus building (eventually using well-known methods like Delphi, etc.). In addition, expert knowledge about factors that drive conflicts on larger scales can be integrated, if desired. Doing so, the problem which causes a conflict is connected to the location where it takes place, its involved population and factors of global, national or regional context. Social control in the affected communities is boosted through active participation and the share of responsibility amongst their members. By integrating different scales, the proposed methodology should hence provide the framework for citizen-oriented, democratic and sustainable local development and sound conflict management.

The proposed methodology will be operationalized with the geo-web tool GeoCiudadano (GeoCitizen), that is currently developed for its applications in different pilot projects in Latin America. The GeoCitizen is a geo-web platform for:

  • collective tracking of neighborhood related facts and problems by means of geotagging
  • spatially related discussions (articulation, exchange, valorization)
  • implementing solution building mechanisms (proposition, decision making, implementation, success monitoring) for a better informed, transparent and participatory conflict management on a neighborhood scale.

Especially in ‘developing’ countries there is a lack of e.g. health- and security services provided by governments, transparent information policy about infrastructure projects, extraction and conservation of environmental resources, land tenure, etc. This widespread information deficit which cannot - or sometimes is not requested on purpose - by public institutions, can only be satisfied by sharing information directly between the affected citizens/communities. Therefore, the tool provides the context for local knowledge-sharing through integrated communicational tools that constitute a social network for citizens and their initiatives in order to participate in local development in an organized and structured way. With the help of the GeoCitizen, people and communities can exchange their everyday experiences, based on geographical features located on a map. This geofeatures are related to pre-structured topics in different discussion forums, where working groups try to identify sound and sustainable solutions. In their solution finding process they are linked to all other neighborhoods having the same necessities and maybe already providing solutions for the same type of problem. Upon request, each topic/discussion process can be guided by a moderator (that may be an expert, but not necessarily is), that designs questionnaires in order to collect specific information about the discussed topic within the discussion group, at public authorities, scientific institutions or others. The platform may include – if it is desired by the affected community - all conflict stakeholders from governments, municipalities, local organizations and the citizen itself which can feed the system with information that simultaneously can be compared and analyzed by GIS-tools and visualized on thematic layers on the platform. This encourages ongoing discussions and the solution finding process.

First Supervisor: Prof. Thomas Blaschke   Second Supervisor: Prof. Andreas Koch



Atzmanstorfer, K., Resl, R., Eitzinger, A. & X. Izurieta (2014). The GeoCitizen-approach: Community-based Spatial Planning. An Ecuadorian Case Study. Cartography and Geographic Information Science CaGIS, 41, 3, pp. 248-259.

Pantoja, A., Eitzinger, A., Salazar, C., Tello J.J., Atzmanstorfer, K. & R. Resl (2014). Integración de Servicios de Mapas de Google Maps y ArcGIS Server en la Plataforma Web GeoCiudadano. Paper presented at the XVI Simposio Internacional SELPER 2014, Medellin, Colombia.

Atzmanstorfer, K. & T. Blaschke (2013). Geospatial web: A tool to support the empowerment of citizens through e-participation? In C. Nunes Silva (Ed.), Handbook of Research on E-Planning: ICTs for Urban Development and Monitoring (pp. 144 - 171). Hershey, PA: IGI-Global.

Atzmanstorfer K. & R. Resl (2010, October). Diseño de Curriculum de SIG para la Demanda Professional en Latinoamérica. Paper presented at the ESRI User Conference Latin America 2010, México D.F., México.

Atzmanstorfer K. & R. Resl (2009, November). UNIGIS in Latin America 1999-2009: Experiences of a Distance Education Program for GIS in Latin America. Paper presented at the International Cartographic Conference (ICC), 2009, Santiago de Chile, Chile.

Atzmanstorfer, K. (2007). GIS-based analysis of cowpea adaptation to Colombian hillside environment - exploring opportunities for high value crops. Master Thesis. Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät der Universität Salzburg.

Atzmanstorfer, K., T. Oberthur & P. Laderach et al. (2006). Probability Modelling to Reduce Decision Uncertainty in Environmental Niche Identification and Driving Factor Analysis: CaNaSTA Case Studies. In P. Zeil & S. Kienberger (Eds.), Geoinformation for Development. Conference Proceedings. University of Salzburg, Austria.


Research Areas:

PPGIS (Public Participatory GIS), Spatial Planning in Latin America, VGI (Volunteered Geographic Information), Geo-Web Tools, GIS in Higher Education


Presentation Atzmanstorfer Karl