LSGI 4321 Geoinformation for Urban and Regional StudiesStudent Name Leung Wing Yan JacquelineStudent ID 09063407DTopic Discuss the strength and limitations of GIT applications in helping decision-making and public engagement in the planning of new graveyards and columbaria.With the increasing population and aging population in Hong Kong, thedemand for columbarium facilities increases rapidly over the past fewyears. According to the statistics from the Food and Health Bureau (FHB,2010), the number and percentage of cremations have raisedsubstantially over the past 30 years from about 7300 (35%) in 1975 to 36500 (89%) in 2009. In Hong Kong, there are only six governmentcrematoria. There are other columbarium facilities operated by privateinstitutions. However, the supply is still not enough to cope with the hugedemand. As a result, it is essential to plan for new graveyards andcolumbaria.In planning for new graveyards and columbaria, there are two processesinvolved. They are public engagement and decision making.1. Public Engagement Public Engagement is the involvement of specialists listening to, developing their understanding of, and interacting with, non-specialists (HEFCE, 2006). There are nine principles which need to consider carefully in the process of public engagement. They are careful planning and preparation, inclusion and demographic diversity, collaboration and shaded purpose, openness and learning, transparency and trust, impact and action, and sustained engagement and participatory culture.
In the process of public engagement, two kinds of technology can beinvolved. They are Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Virtual Reality(VR). A brief introduction of each technology will be given below. Afterthat, the application of the technologies in public engagement will bediscussed. A) Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is a useful design and visualization tool. It is the use of technology for design demonstration. CAD helps to provide some conceptual ideas in either 2-Dimensional or 3-Dimensional. As a result, it has the ability to provide others with a better, more realistic view of the urban environment (Batten, 2002). CAD helps to construct precise 3-D models for the proposed design and planning on columbarium facilities in the site. With the 3-D models, it provides the public a 3-D view of the columbarium facilities. It reflects the real word in a certain extent. Also, CAD helps the planners to create valid Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs). The OZPs shows the proposed land-uses and major road systems of individual planning scheme areas and the objectives of various land use zonings on the plan (Town Planning Board, 2008). However, there is lack of data connectivity in CAD models (Autodesk). The model constructed is in the form of independent lines in different files. When one of files is deleted from a model, the GIS data will not be updated automatically. Instead, there will be problems when the exporting the file. B) Virtual Reality (VR) Virtual Reality is electronic simulation of environments experienced via bead-mounted eye goggles and wired clothing enabling the end user to interact in realistic three-dimensional situations (Coates, 1992). VR can be applied to many areas
including design, simulation studies, games, and education to add realism (Makanae, 2003). VR model achieves understanding of planned building object. It is a mean of communication in the urban development process and the features of building interact with the properties of the environment (Kaj Sunesson, Carl Martin Allwood, Dan Paulin, Ilona Held, 2008). VR can be divided into two major parts - the simulation of real environments and the development of an imagined environment. In the process of public engagement, it is essential for the general public to know more about the planning of the columbarium facilities. The VR model can demonstrate how the columbarium facilities are organized in potential sites with simulation of real environment. Also, it can show the design of the columbarium facilities. As a result, the public can view the plan on the columbarium facilities virtually and obtain more information about it. This helps the public to evaluate the plan in a more efficient way.2. Decision Making Decision making is the mental processes which is a selection of an option by severing or eliminating all the others (Perdicoúlis, 2010). According to Arkansas Program, there are eight moral stages involved in the decision making. The first step is establishing community. This is to create and nurture the relationships, norms and procedures. The second step is perception. This is to recognize the existing moral problem. The third step is interpretation. This is the identification and evaluation on competing explanations for the moral problem. The forth step is judgment. This is the sifting through various possible actions or responses and determining which is more morally justifiable. The fifth step is motivation. It is to examine the competing commitments which may distract from a more moral course of action and then prioritizing and committing to moral values over other. The sixth step is courage and character. It is following through with action that supports the morally justified decision. Integrity is supported by the ability to overcome distractions and
obstacles, developing implementing skills, and ego strength. Theseventh step is reflection in action. The eighth step is reflection onaction.In the process of decision making, it focuses on the site selection forthe columbarium facilities. Since GIS offers the spatial data, it isuseful for deciding the potential location of the columbarium facilities.A) Geo-information System (GIS) GIS relates tangible elements of the real world such as roads, trees, memorials and buildings, to information such as records, documents, photographs, history and statistics (Damian Bradley,LEES + Associates, 2010). It also displays graphics with linked database and driving force behind database. GIS helps to perform the site selection in the planning of new columbarium facilities. There are several factors when deciding the sites for the columbarium facilities. i) Availability of Land For graveyards, it needs a large piece of land for development and further expansion. Using the satellites images can help to define the land which is available for development. GIS helps to show the area of the undeveloped area over Hong Kong. Through digitization, it can show all the undeveloped area in Hong Kong. This helps the planners to make decision with the accurate and up-to-date information for further process on the determination of the potential sites. ii) Landscape: Gentle and Flat With the gentle slope, people can easily access the sites. Also, it is easier for future development and expansion. When facing natural disasters, with flat land, it can minimize
the damage to the graveyards. For example, when landslide is occurred, gentle slope can help to slow down the movement and mud. The landslide will not ruin the graves. With ArcScene of ArcGIS, it can show the landscape over Hong Kong in a 3-D view. This can help to evaluate the potential sites.iii) Good Transportation The potential site needs to cope with huge demand on some public holidays, for example, Ching Ming Festival. During some public holidays, people will go to columbarium facilities for graveside rituals. As a result, good transportation is essential. Proximity Analysis is needed to for evaluation of site accessibility. Buffering can be set to calculate the number of stations within the proposed site. Furthermore, the shortest distance algorithm can be applied to locate the nearest transport station from the sites.iv) Far Away from the Residential Area From the survey carried out by the government about the new columbarium facilities, most of the interviewees do not want the columbarium facilities to be located near their homes. They are worried about the new columbarium facilities will lower their existing properties’ values (FHB, 2010). As a result, the potential site should have least local disturbance and noise and air pollution. Proximity Analysis is needed to evaluate the affected area. It is essential to set several distances of buffers to track how many residents will be affected from the potential sites.v) Good Environment for Building Columbarium Facilities With good vegetation, air quality can be improved since there will be much smoke produced from the sites. Also,
there should be greening spaces. In this case, remote sensing can help to determine the air quality of the sites by using MODIS to evaluate the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) (Ngai, 2011). AOT is a measure of radiation extinction due to the interaction of radiation with aerosol particles in the atmosphere (NASA, 2010). Low AOT value implies that it is a good environment for building columbarium facilities. Also, overlay and buffering can help to calculate the size of the greening space in the potential sites. The polygon shapefiles of green areas can overlay with the satellite image onto the basemap. Buffering can be set to indicate the size of greening space. With more greening space, the environment will be better.3. Limitation on GIT Firstly, there are different opinions from the public in the public engagement. It is difficult to present the idea from a particular interviewee on planning of columbarium facilities. It will be time consuming and costly if everyone’s idea is presented with the use of GIT. Secondly, the psychological view from the general public cannot be considered by using GIT. According to the view from the public, there is local disturbance among the communities in the building of columbarium facilities. To comfort them, there are alternative solutions in planning the graveyards’ locations and the design of columbarium facilities. For the location of the graveyards, the government can consider outlying islands. Although the accessibility may not be as good as other developed areas in Hong Kong, such locations can minimize the local disturbance. The transport network to the outlying island can be designed in the later planning stage. The columbarium facilities can be in form of Cemetery Park. This can provide more supplies to cope with the increasing demand from the
public. Alternatively, the columbarium facilities can be located in some buildings with trees surrounded. When columbarium facilities are located in buildings, it is difficult for people to recognize them from the outlook of the buildings. Also, if there are trees surrounding the buildings, it will become more difficult for people to know what kind of buildings they are. This can reduce the annoyance on the columbarium facilities for the public.In conclusion, CAD, VR and GIS help in the process of planning newcolumbarium facilities. In the stage of public engagement, both CAD andVR help to produce accurate and reliable information on the design ofnew columbarium facilities. In the stage of decision making, GIS helps todefine the potential sites for new columbarium facilities with 5 criteria -availability of land, gentle and flat aspects of landscapes, goodtransportation, distances from the residential area and suitableenvironment. However, there are limitations on GIT. Firstly, an opinionfrom a particular resident cannot be reflected with the use of GIT.Secondly, GIT ignores the psychological views of the public. For thesolution of the limitations, the new columbarium facilities can be locatedon the outlying islands or using trees as a barrier to hide thecolumbarium facilities.
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