Conceptualizing people in SDI literature: Implications for SDI research and development

Christine Richter, Gianluca Miscione, Yola Georgiadou


People have always played an important role in SDI research. SDI researchers discuss in their papers the role of people explicitly or refer to people implicitly and from different angles. For example, they view people as users of SDI, as evaluators, as learners of SDI, as champions driving development, among others. In this article, we conduct an interpretive analysis of 142 peer-reviewed articles on SDI research from 1999 to 2010 and classify these on the basis of how SDI researchers view people. We discuss the implications of each view on people for SDI research and development. Our classification of the literature reveals that our field does not yet engage deeply in the everyday work of people as practitioners: planners, policy makers, and administrators. Compared to other views, a view on people as practitioners focuses on the relations not only between people, technology and data, but also their relations to things like land and urban space. It also emphasizes historical contingencies. This makes the ‘people as practitioners’ view especially relevant for contexts where SDI is only recently emerging and necessitates a dialogue with other spatial disciplines like planning and geography. Drawing on literature outside of mainstream SDI we outline two future research directions for a ‘people as practitioners’ view.


SDI research, literature, people, practice, institutionalizing, planning

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