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Youth Led Digital Mapping for Urban Resilience and Safety - School Toolkit & Curriculum [Dec. 22nd Update]

A youth friendly digital mapping toolkit and curriculum designed for schools to engage young people in leading action on environmental risks

Photo of Joe Agoada
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas, a number that is growing every day as people seek jobs, education, and access to the amenities of modern city life. This mass migration has resulted in densely populated neighborhoods being situated on vulnerable land. As rainfall and severe weather events increase in magnitude and frequency due to climate change, these communities will be increasingly at risk to disasters such as floods and landslides. To increase preparedness and reduce risk to disaster, community mapping and surveying allows for threats and vulnerabilities to be located and mitigated. The process can be incredibly difficult due to the location, size, density and informal nature of urban neighborhoods. Our idea is a youth led digital mapping school toolkit and curriculum that uses child-friendly geospatial (GPS) technology to increase urban resilience and safety. Through the toolkit and curriculum schools empower youth to understand the indicators of disaster risk and then pinpoint them using low cost aerial mapping tools and a special mobile mapping application. The mobile app automatically uploads points captured by the youth to a common digital map. The points are validated and the maps are released publicly and used by young people to activate cooperative disaster risk reduction actions by alerting city officials and organizing community leaders and peers.

WHO BENEFITS?

The youth maps have been the basis for disaster risk reduction actions taken on infrastructure, shelter, waste, lighting and emergency escape routes, benefitting those living in vulnerable urban communities. Since the youth led digital mapping initiative launched, hundreds of mappers have been trained in over 25 communities across Brazil and in additional communities in Haiti, Argentina and Kosovo. We are at a point to scale the initiative with school based curriculum, reaching new geographies.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

Historically, government agencies have seen incredible difficulty in having open communication with urban communities and the youth that live there. Our idea takes into account this frustration by empowering youth to complete a time intensive activity for the government, the mapping of environmental risks in densely populated and hard to reach urban neighborhoods. The youth maps generate valuable qualitative and quantitative data for planners and policy makers seeking to reduce disaster risks. The project educates young people on what it takes to rally collaborative action with their peers, community and government. The idea gives schools a way to turn youth into powerful community advocates on climate change with strong empathy for their local government. The initiative takes on the need for heightened public visibility and awareness on climate change as well. It brings in many members of the community to generate widespread conversation on the topic of disaster risks and climate change. The youth led digital mapping idea has been developed with international partners including UNICEF, Voices of Youth, and the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science. These partners ensure the initiative includes important inputs in the context of youth, urban slums and climate change. In the localities where youth mapping is implemented, local partners, such as CEDAPS in Brazil, take ownership of the training and mapping process. Local government agencies are engaged from the start to help shape the types of risks for mapping based on the impact of past disasters.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, for two or more years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?

The school toolkit and curriculum idea is a recent development for an evolving digital youth led mapping methodology. In August of 2015 the Cisco Foundation provided a planning grant to reflect on the first five years of the initiative and to develop a plan to scale further. As part of that support we were able to run a scaling design workshop with the key stakeholders. This group identified the school kit and curriculum idea as a viable scaling strategy.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?

Our project puts youth in charge. They lead the reporting of community risks and hazards and advocate for action. We differ from “crowdsourcing” initiatives in that all of our youth mappers undergo a training and each point on the map is curated by the mappers before it is shared publicly. In our consultations with municipal government, we heard that a large volume of unverified reports can overwhelm, paralyzing action. We engage local governments before the mapping begins so they are able to be aware of what types of report will be put on the map. We include advocacy and communication training in our mapping workshop which allows the youth mappers to develop strategies to activate and coordinate their peers and community into action.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?

While we have validated that young people from all over the world are interested and enthusiastic in mapping our unknown is in the variance of school contexts. How will we design a balance of structure and flexibility to reach 10,000 schools, 100,000 schools? Through our piloting we will also look to focus on the technical support and training needed for teachers and municipal government officials to engage in the program.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

Recent innovation has produced devices that can collect data almost anywhere. However, data must also be readable, accessible, ethical and actionable to become a resource for collaboration and problem solving. Interaction between government, community, and its young people can be stressed and challenging. No scaleable project has found the right balanced and directed volume of information on risks and hazards.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?

Our initial beneficiary feedback work allowed us to identify the school kit and curriculum idea as the scaling mechanism. With each iteration of the design of our idea, we gain feedback from the user community on how to make improvements for both successful mapping and the follow-up action on the environmental risks. As we continue to plan and design the scaling program in this challenge we will add to this section.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

The vision is to create a globally available mapping school toolkit and curriculum that can be picked up by any teacher and used in their classroom to bring learning about geography and disaster risk reduction. We imagine it will be a high impact experiential learning experience that not just educates them but also empowers them to act as community leaders to increase urban resilience against climate change. Our next stage is to raise funds to prototype the school kit and curriculum and then mobilize resources to pilot.

How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?

We plan to use part of the Amplify prize to pilot our idea in the Philippines. Manila is the central capital region with 17 cities and over 12 million inhabitants, and includes Quezon City which has a population of about 3 million, with 29% under 15 years old. The Philippines’ Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law provides each city should ‘identify, assess, and manage hazards and risks’. The youth led digital mapping toolkit and curriculum idea complements ongoing initiatives around Manila, offering trained youth to report risks, validate hazards, and put forward recommendations to the local and national government agencies such as Department of Education (DepEd). The DepEd, has a policy that all schools are mandated to “conduct an annual student-led risk identification and mapping within and around the school premises to ensure a safe environment”. Our idea would offer schools a powerful way to fulfill important policy and make local impact.

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Team

This is a brilliant idea and am integrating aspects of it within an upcoming Urban Resilience project in Kenya. I'll share more details and impact report. Good job to the teams and thanks for sharing.

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