Thursday, March 17, 2011

Follow my Uruguay blog, MapaDelSur

I am headed to South America to join Plan CEIBAL in Montevideo, Uruguay. It would be odd to blog my experiences there from a blog called "Map Uganda" - so I'm moving to a new blog, Right now you'll see a couple of test posts, maps, and a new activity which I'm developing.

There are 380,000 OLPC laptops in Uruguay's primary schools, with many next-generation laptops to be handed out to older students. Here's the latest YouTube video I could find:

Friday, February 18, 2011

MapKibera Gains Ground and 'Ground Truth'

This neighborhood map was made by volunteers and residents of Nairobi, Kenya.

And they've also entered that data into OpenStreetMap. Link and embedded below

Then American Association for Advancement of Science gave them some maps and digital tools to automatically outline buildings

High-tech maps are neat, but without labels they cannot capture the meaning. So the MapKibera organization has held workshops and training sessions to get young people to label and verify these buildings, using local knowledge from a variety of non-profits.
Even the best-planned development projects can be unraveled by poor understanding of a place, what MapKibera calls "ground truth". I was reading about a hydroelectric dam project which relocated villages on paper, but found nobody moved because the new land was associated with witches.

What impresses me most about MapKibera is they've chosen under-represented neighborhoods, left blank or ignored on government maps, as the canvas for a new type of community-building. They're able to make OpenStreetMap's high tech come alive in a place without much more than SMS phones.

They inspired me to keep working with WikiProject Bangladesh, a community and research map which is already starting in the capital. More than a year after our original concept, we are making a new health and disaster response map a reality.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Maps Projects

Because I have been promoting the XO Map Activity and, I thought it'd be good to write about a couple of other map projects.

I'm running a course on Online Maps with OpenLayers. The idea behind OpenLayers is that you have many sources of maps, such as ESRI, Google, and Ushahidi, and you want one open system to combine them. That makes it a good fit for Mozilla's School of Webcraft: a new initiative for techies to teach the open web and publish helpful guides for self-learners. Out of the 20 Webcraft courses, this one stands out as one about goals and projects rather than code.

Why am I doing this? Well, maps were the first webpages I wrote on my own. It lets you make something visual and powerful even if you're just a newbie. We'll get some cool projects and true believers out of this course, I'm sure of it.

I'm also making maps for RAIN, an environmental group keeping tabs on everything water-related (except rain, ironically). The maps get used by the state's environmental protection office and the city of Pittsburgh. The map itself isn't that special, but it turns their numbers into a live picture of the environment. When I worked on a water research project, it was clear that we need more of these, to take good public data and match it with good visuals. Plus, there's something futuristic about seeing this from hundreds of miles away:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

olpcMap Sprint Dénouement

After my second day of the olpcMAP Sprint, I wrote:

Everyone who has stopped by has added their own piece and commented on how we're not exactly following the agenda. I'd compare it to a political convention, maybe? We each came to represent a part of our community, knowing what the end product is (olpcMAP), but with different ideas about what it ought to do.

Today, Friday: I went in thinking that was only about networking. After the meeting, I think it can do more to support volunteers' programs. More articles such as the Ntugi School solar setup and my One Stop Media Guide would be available.

This was also a big week for student mapmaking. The Map Activity, used by many students in South America, is getting a new look in 2011. Pilot over to anywhere on Earth, and click to add local photos, Wikipedia articles, and WikiMapia places. It also gives students and teachers a direct line to olpcMAP!

And what can students do by mapping their community? Check out the Surui Tribe's map project to protect the rainforest through Google Earth.