Tech Report

A Process Memory Platform to Support Participatory Planning and Deliberation

The communicative turn in planning theory argues that knowledge in planning is a social construction, emphasizing that knowledge is built in social contexts, by a plurality of actors, through their interactions. This new understanding of knowledge is built around the need of plurality of reasons and voices to inform and legitimate planning actions.

However this knowledge is often difficult to capture and integrate within the wider knowledge base that planners generate in the planning process. The body of knowledge guiding and supporting the planning process is captured in distributed fragments that come from a combination of present and past information, facts, people and artefacts produced by dispersed decision-processes. This knowledge fragmentation and distribution hampers, and often impedes, transparent and coherent decision-making processes in participatory planning practices.

The thesis addresses the challenge of transparent knowledge integration, focusing on the definition of new methods and tools to handle and integrate planning knowledge in order to trace how design decisions develop to create a planning process memory.

An information architecture is proposed to represent and manage participatory planning knowledge, and a multimedia tools platform has been designed to represent how knowledge evolves within this software environment.

This work is evaluated through multiple, real planning case studies, in order to test both the methodological aspects (application of the information architecture for knowledge acquisition and representation) and the tools (Compendium, CoPe_it! and FM).

Evidence is given of how the information architecture coupled with the use of a hypermedia visual Knowledge Management System (hvKMS) (Compendium) offers a valuable support to managing knowledge in Participatory Planning. In particular the information architecture enables effective representation of knowledge fragments in different dimensions according to their relevance to different contexts. This implies two grades of benefits: i. discovering knowledge connections and impacts across contexts; ii. having a thematic but holistic view and understanding of the process memory.

Furthermore, the case studies show that the tools are easy to use, flexible and customizable. Several examples are given of how the tools can support the tracing and representation of planning processes which differentiate for method, task, scale, planning phase and stakeholders involved.

As a final result of the platform and method testing, the thesis discuss three facets of a process-memory platform for planning practices at the technical, political and community levels. A critical analysis of the results is presented regarding limitations of the platform and, starting from this consideration future work and system evolution will be envisioned, recalibrating objective and strategy to new research challenges.


De Liddo, A. (2008). A Process Memory Platform to Support Participatory Planning and Deliberation. (Doctoral dissertation, Polytechnic of Bari, 19 September 2008). Technical Report KMI-08-07, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK. Available at:

ID: kmi-08-07

Date: 2008

Author(s): Anna De Liddo

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