From sense of place to visualization of place: examining people-place relationships for insight on developing geovisualizations




Newell, Robert
Canessa, Rosaline

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Effective resource planning incorporates people-place relationships, allowing these efforts to be inclusive of the different local beliefs, interests, activities and needs. ‘Geovisualizations’ can serve as potentially powerful tools for facilitating ‘place-conscious’ resource planning, as they can be developed with high degrees of realism and accuracy, allowing people to recognize and relate to them as ‘real places’. However, little research has been done on this potential, and the place-based applications of these visual tools are poorly understood. This study takes steps toward addressing this gap by exploring the relationship between sense of place and ‘visualization of place’. Residents of the Capital Regional District of BC, Canada, were surveyed about their relationship with local coastal places, concerns for the coast, and how they mentally visualize these places. Factor analysis identified four sense of place dimensions - nature protection values, community and economic well-being values, place identity and place dependence, and four coastal concerns dimensions - ecological, private opportunities, public space and boating impacts. Visualization data were coded and treated as dependent variables in a series of logistic regressions that used sense of place and coastal concerns dimensions as predictors. Results indicated that different aspects of sense of place and (to a lesser degree) concerns for places influence the types of elements people include in their mental visualization of place. In addition, sense of place influenced the position and perspective people assume in these visualizations. These findings suggest that key visual elements and perspectives speak to different place relationships, which has implications for developing and using geovisualizations in terms of what elements should be included in tools and (if appropriate) depicted as affected by potential management or development scenarios.



Geography, Psychology


Newell, R. & Canessa, R. (2018). From sense of place to visualization of place: examining people-place relationships for insight on developing geovisualizations. Heliyon, 4(e00547), 1-37.