A NYT story about students from Harvard documenting locations and types of toilets available in a Mumbai slum.
“The act of naming streets, counting citizens and mapping facilities turns information into an advocacy tool.”
But what was unexpected, that using toilets lowered some rates of sickness, or that even the poorest of people would pay 2-3 cents to enjoy a cleaner site?
I’ve just completed Day 1 of a SPACIT meeting, the semi-annual gathering of partners working on this Comenius funded project. Very interesting ideas coupled with very ambitious plans! Combining GIS&T, geography, philosophy, politics, the act of “participating” – or engagement, pedagogy and teacher professional development, communication, and other technology, especially via geomedia. Here’s a recent paper, GI and Spatial Citizenship (pdf) authored by 3 of the lead partners, Inga Gryl, Thomas Jekel, and Karl Donert.
I’m contributing on behalf of NCGE, and I have much to learn from these discussions. And did I mention we’ve gathered in Salzburg, Austria, at the university where the GI Forum and AGIT is about to happen? Geo everywhere.
A recent blog entry by my friend Meg Stewart reminded me of the work that Aly DeGraff is doing in the Grenadines. I remember hearing about Aly a few years ago. We both went to Middlebury College (go Panthers!), where colleagues of mine in the geography department talked about her skills and motivation as she went through her years there.
Aly is now finishing up her year-long program of participatory mapping in the Grenadines. After catching up on her blog entries, I just have to say that I’m really impressed with the focus, professionalism, and confidence with which she’s pursuing this work. I haven’t done much mapping of this type myself, but my little forays as part of projects and workshops over the years have clearly shown me that one must accept the process even more than the product as a metric of success. I also know that I *never* could have done this type of work on my own at that age, even with the help of a mentor. Kudos to the Compton Foundation for funding these projects. Go, Aly, go!
Projects like these also remind me of geodesign processes, which I’ve thought a lot more about in the last year since I helped to edit Carl Steinitz’s forthcoming Esri Press book on A Framework for Geodesign. Participation from “the people of the place” are a defining characteristic of geodesign, and how that’s implemented looks different in every situation. The case studies in Carl’s book range along a spectrum of size and scale, but all involved larger support teams than Aly’s work. Another reason which I find her progress so enjoyable and remarkable.
My colleague Patrick Meier tweeted about the effort to crowdsource sea floor images, evaluating the images to ascertain population counts of sea scallops. It reminded me of similar citizen science efforts at validating land cover, and folding proteins. I remember that the Jane Goodall Institute is also contributing to or managing another forest / land cover effort too, but can’t find it right now.
Patrick has written about such efforts in the humanitarian realm as well.
It takes a village + geospatial technologies = progress.
The location-enabled form of navel-gazing. Wear a GPS for 200 days and then categorize all of your activities. Someone has a lot of time on their hands… But from an anthropological perspective, I appreciate the curiosity of it – http://www.tlclark.com/atlasofthehabitual/index.html.
Like many others around the world, I found the recent news that my iPhone’s location is being constantly monitored to be somewhat shocking and unsettling. Because I synch my phone to this computer, I used this program to see the patterns. Sure enough, this is where my phone and I have been since August 2010. Yikes.
Update: Remember, the recorded locations may not be exact. Here’s a nice description from GeoIQ of how inconsistent they can be, and why. And another note from Peter Batty that gives further reassuring insights.
Two stories were published today: one in the New York Times on the potential for online mapping to contribute to humanitarian relief efforts and another in The Chronicle on academic involvement in these efforts. Reporter Marc Parry interviewed me for the 2nd story, and something I said managed to stay off the cutting room floor! My five seconds of fame in a Chronicle article.
Today was the official end to the Standby Task Force’s contributions to the Libya mapping effort, and the UN OCHA has assumed the responsibility of the project. It was their request that launched this deployment in the first place, and also today they published a report that addresses the Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies. Took a quick scan through it and realized it needs a closer read when I have a more focused mind.
I am a complete newbie to the domain of crisis mapping, but learning little-by-little. The 4-week Libya deployment was both humbling and inspiring. Humbling because these contributions are so small and so tenuous in the face of true need. At times the whole system seemed so ethereal and fragile: a loose network of people around the world, relying on digital technologies such as gmail and Skype and google docs to coordinate themselves. Inspiring because it works, and I loved being part of a team that has been doing *something* to help.
I intend to continue as a coordinating member of the SBTF’s analysis team, volunteering one map at a time. Still working through the plans for bringing students to this too. May Term?