‘Civic Maps’ was a round table that took place at MIT Media Lab on October 20th 2011, organized for the Center for Civic Media.
Participants: Ethan Zuckerman (Ushahidi), Laura Kurgam and Pablo Rey Mazón (projects from Meipi and Basurama).

The slides presented below were presented later in the class “Object Geographies: Dis-assembly / Re-assembly Workshop in Art and Architecture” at ACT in MIT, and are an update from the ones used in the Civic Maps session..

Así lo recogió el “live blogging” del civic media:

Civic Maps – notes

Anyone else in the room? Help out w/notes 🙂

Ethan Zuckerman – Ushahidi
The Ushahidi (Testimony) story: kenyan electoral violence. Cory Okollah was reporting on the electoral violence, put out a call for mapping reports. 3 diasporic Kenyans built a tool in 48 hours.
Reports started coming in. The media in the US was telling a story about ‘tribal violence’ based on ancient tensions. The map showed: desperately poor neighborhoods suffered electoral violence; most of it in an area where there is a current land dispute, and in urban slums.
Demonstrated the utility of Ushahidi as platform. So folks behind Ushahidi got together and said: let’s make this a general platform.
Useful for crisis maps, electoral monitoring, bringing together individual reports that would just be anecdotes on their own.
Now over 20,000 deployments of Ushahidi (september 2011).
Crowdmap is a cloud hosted platform that lets you very quickly deploy an Ushahidi instance, it’s greatly facilitated uptake.
Most deployments will soon be crowdmap instances.
Ushahidi gained a lot of attention in the wake of the Haitian earthquake. Aid agencies worked using these maps to figure out who was affected where, and to deploy aid.
Also used as a platform for election reporting – see Uchaguzi.
Citizen journalism: HARASSmap in Cairo, By the City/For the City (NYC)
Libya mapping.
Stand-By Task Force. International team that’s on-call to participate in mapping.
iLab, local software development
Many offshoot projects and components
SwiftRiver: automating verification of crowdsourced incoming info. How to sort gossip, rumor, credibility management system, dashboard to help you share good information.
Architecture for managing data streams and credibility.
Open Source, lots of collaborators.

Pablo Rey

Basurama: interested in highlighting waste production
Looking at municipal waste and both formal and informal sector participation in waste economies lets people exchange objects with map basis

3 approaches to map tools:

Info above the map
The Map
Aerial photography (map base)

Linz, 2005, people adding information on top of a map. Not geotagged.
Wikimap madrid: let people produce data on top of a map, enable people to produce layers
2007: meipi group collaborated with @LaboUrbano ‘Todo Sobre mi Barrio.’ Creating a virtual layer atop the map base.

One group asked about creating an image of the neighborhood – not just points on a map, but organized layers.

We needed a tool to create new maps, similar to Ushahidi’s need for Crowdmaps. So we created, where people could create their own map and upload content.

#Madrid 2016: a map that demonstrated existing broken sport facilitaties.
Transformacao Urbana, in Brazil. Also at this time it was translated. 2006, panorama series to document where waste was stored.
Expanding concept of waste beyond trash: looking at wasteful urban development.
Geotagging trash: . reuse of waste.

The map base can be modified, not just the data points or layers.

TransTrash exhibition

A tool to modify OpenStreetMap vectors, to add vector graphics to the map base.

OSM did map Kibera, anyone can download the data.
Google replicated this, but they don’t allow download. So communities participate in mapmaking but will they have access to the geodata they’ve produced?

Open Aerial Map: to create a new layer of public info, using low tech tools, that the public can participate in.
You take aerial photos, and can stitch them together using

Allows very rapid creation of aerial map base.

Laura Kurgan

Stillspotting. Guggenheim. Visualization of ‘quiet’ in the city. They took the 311 data and visualized it on a map. Allows pepole to browse the calls of noise complaints. 270,000 noise complaints. Mostly, people complained about Music.

Native Land exhibit, Raymond Departdon, Paul Virilio, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, et al.

360 degree panoramic projection of 6 scenes about global migration. Focuses on the reasons why people move around the world.

Population shifts: to cities.
Remittances. 4 other stories / layers.

Global census count data over time. Global Migrant Origin Database, OECD.

2007 DB of remittances. Used data collected by Manuel Orazco (sp?)

Q: the way the remittance visualization was done, it could be read as wealth extraction: it would be useful to look also at contribution (value produced) by migrants to the country they migrate to.

photos of remittance locations from Flickr Global New York City Group.
Touba: second largest city in Senegal. 2 million people today.

Jesse Shapins’ team will be working on software side of a storytelling platform around remittances.

3rd theme: refugees. Using UNHCR data. Whenever more than 5,000 people cross a border, they gather data.

Cities in danger from 1m of water level increase. It doesn’t necessarily break down along rich/poor lines.

Architecture and justice.

Million Dollar Block project: mapping neighborhoods where more than a million dollars per year are spent on incarcerating people, and imagining what these blocks could look like if the money were spent differently.

Spatial Information Design Lab. New York, New Orleans.

‘Efficient Cities Movement’ uses data to enforce slum clearance. Data being mobilized to demolish public housing, even as prison construction increases.
Maps around alternatives to incarceration.
Redesign of waiting rooms for probationers.
Disperse the institution of probation across the city.

Q from Charlie de Tar re: mapmaking and policy advocacy. What’s your role?
A: our role is to bring different projects together that can build on each other. On the other hand, the maps at the beginning aren’t intended to go to the community right away.

sc: the map of remittances could play into the rhetoric of the nativists/antiimmigrant forces. Maybe make one that also demonstrates the contribution to the country in which the migrant worker is laboring?

a: yeah, need to think further about that one.

Q: deforestation.
A: civilian can get .5 meters …

Laura: does Ushahidi not want to map informal cities?
EZ: useful distinction between data on the map, the map, the base layer. Ushahidi has done a lot in informal settlements. Projects like Map Kibera have also created the vector layer.

Love the million dollar block project because 1. it’s shocking, 2. there’s an opportunity. The most exciting thing is the idea of working on the probation system.

What’s the dream map? What’s the intersection of geography and data that you most want.

Laura: it’s the dream team, not the dream map. You have to have people from different disciplines. We had a whole network that came together around that project. The right people were in place when the commissioner came there.

Pablo: a map that would be understandable, a civic map, people have contrbuted to it, modified it. It’s not only a map.

SC: Perhaps it’s the social process of producing the map that makes them ‘Civic maps’

Jim: What’s the mechanism that moves from the info presented on the map that leads to some kind of social change? I could see civic media connected to regular media. How does info visualization eventually result in civic change?

EZ: initial theory behind Ushahidi – a way to do collective reporting when it’s difficult to do traditional reporting.

Pablo: most meipis are only around for a short period of time. The maps become a kind of archive. We can then move content to other platforms.

Laura Kurgan: it’s not easy to predict audiences. Lots of policy oriented people saw them. Our process is about data literacy, storytelling with maps.

Q: design. Maps are authored. People make aesthetic choices about them. To what degree do you think about that, vs. let the data ‘speak for itself?’

LK: data can’t speak for itself. Data carries biases. The way it was collected has to be exposed. I’m a designer.

EZ: first Ushahidi map had fires and doves. Fires were violence, doves were peace.

Ushahidi has ‘cleaned up’ to give it rhetorical punch. But it can look more authoritative than it is.

Bike rack

We should build a #civicmaps hashtag, delicious collection, and zotero group

Q: data gathering /storytelling / journalism

|| Back to ||