Geocraft as a Means to Support the Development of Smart Cities, Getting the People of the Place Involved - Youth Included -

Henk Scholten


Purpose: In this paper we present Geocraft, a Geo-ICT framework meant to provide the information needed to support the development of smart cities in an accessible and user-friendly way. We explored whether Geocraft could be an effective way to get the people of the place, especially youth, involved in geospatial issues.

Methodology/Approach:Geocraft is a virtual environment in which we import real geospatial data into the gaming environment of the popular computer game Minecraft. In Geocraft, we can run real-time impact models to virtually simulate ánd visualise future developments and their implications, providing the user with relevant information during design processes. Geocraft is linked to Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs); data generated or added in Geocraft can upgrade existing databases and SDIs. In four use cases, Geocraft is used by children and high school students to address spatial planning challenges with the help of Geocraft.

Findings: Geocraft has an appropriate level of abstraction to effectively represent the real world. The use of Geocraft enhances insight in geospatial relations and can raise awareness and insights in a number of geospatial issues. Geocraft can be used to collect the ideas of citizens, in this case children, and engage them in urban planning issues to raise solutions that can reckon on public support. Geocraft can engage thousands of children working on the same geospatial project in the same online Geocraft world. Spatial scenarios designed in Geocraft can be effectively translated into a feasible spatial design and be imported to the digital environment of professional designers. Moreover, Geocraft turned out to be a valuable educational tool to develop typical 21th century skills: communicating, finding and evaluating information, creating and innovating, collaborating and problem solving.

We conclude that as an easy to use smart visualisation tool, in which everybody can build future scenarios, Geocraft can be used to get the people of the place involved with geospatial issues.

Research Limitation/implication: We present qualitative research results. In the next step, we will investigate how statistically significant the improvements in learning skills are.

Originality/Value of paper: This paper presents a new digital environment facilitating citizen participation and educational processes. We use actual spatial data to transform physical reality into a parallel and playable virtual version of that reality. Herein we can simulate spatial processes and support collaboration. By doing so, we can provide unique visualizations of complex processes, raising insights across the borders of disciplines in an user-friendly way.


citizen participation; spatial planning; smart cities; Minecraft; citizen science

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