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Mapping slums

What practical ways can be used to map slums and facilitate the communication with authorities?

Photo of André Fernandes

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

An insight I got while watching a TED Talk - video attached. Slums are usually not mapped by authorities, not covered by the public services and usually are excluded from statistics, in such a way that these 3 aspects reinforce each other. Throughout the principle of use what the technologies make possible to do, in the TED Talk it was presented a case in a Kenyan slum where dwellers were trained to map their area using a simple GPS. In paralel to the GPS, it was created a wiki for data collection, a collaborative map. As the dwellers are those who know the area better, collaborative practices enable to discover places that even in the neighborhood are unknown, as well as facilitate the transparency and information flow with the authorities. It opens up new opportunities of dialogue among the slum dwellers and with the world outside the slum, including the possibility to bring public services into the community. From the feedback from Philip Knight, led mapping of slums is an idea pioneered by the Map Kibera project (mapkibera.org). The underlying technology is Open Street Map. Open street map is an open database of mapping data that anyone can contribute to. What are the best ways to map slums for natural disasters prevention? Paul Bromen gave a feedback about Google Maps Trekker - check on the comments - that can be an alternative to cover areas marginalised from the traditional mapping systems. Does anyone have experience with Google Maps Trekker?

WHO BENEFITS?

Slum dwellers, since their area is mapped out and they get to know what exists in their community Authorities and public service providers, since it makes easy the information flow about the slums

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

It goes straighforward to the exclusion of slums on urban statistics and planning

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, between one and two years

EXPERTISE

  • I do not have experience working in a sector related to my idea

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • I'm not sure

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

Brazilian, traveler, curious, student at Kaospilots Switzerland.

11 comments

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Photo of Tom Cornish
Team

Hey Andre! Thanks for this one. I work for an organisation that maps slums using a combination of google maps and "Formula" to verify and baseline survey these communities. I'm not sure how to linke my "open source" slum data suggestion but it seems like something we can easily combine. We are also looking at facial recognition software to scan google maps and give a rough indication of where the slums are in the first place - this seems to work well. Stay in touch moving forward I'm sure we can aid. I am with Pollinate Energy. www.pollinateenergy.org

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Photo of André Fernandes
Team

Hi Tom, I don't understand about this technical details, it sounds interesting. Feedbacks and suggestions are welcome!

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Photo of Philip Knight
Team

Hi Andre - it pollinate energy sounds like a real world application of the benefits of mapping and addressing informal settlements (I've also contributed an idea on Address Codes). However I am a little bit surprised that you are using a closed system such as Google Maps. I think you'd benefit from looking at Open Street Map. The technology is fully open and allows you to access the data behind it. When you say you are scanning Google maps, I assume you mean you are looking at the satellite imagery to attempt to identify pockets of slums that haven't been previously mapped? If you are then you might be interested in the Missing Maps project. Again this is an Open Street Map project, this time with the input of MSF and the Red Cross. They are trying to map (using Open Street Map) the unmapped parts of the world. One problem that you might have with adopting the Google map approach is that any mapping you create by tracing Google's satellite imagery will be subject to copyright restrictions. Open Street Map has imagery that you can trace where the copyright has been rescinded.

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Photo of Tom Cornish
Team

Thanks for the reply Philip. We have considered Open Street Map previously but have stuck with google maps because the benefits don't outweigh the difficulties of switching our entire systems over at the moment. We do look at the satellite imagery first, which tends to be <6 months old. Locate the slums, then verify them by scouting and surveying in person collecting data. These slums are then distributed to our local entrepreneurs as their customer market. We provide them with sustainable products we need. We are not copying googles satellite imagery - we only need the slum location GPS co-ordinates in the first place. We do use google maps as an overview. Happy to discuss this further!

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