Mapping Kibera’s Slums

Map Kibera was launched as  a project dedicated to helping create essential maps for the residents of the city’s slums.  The concept was to have local youngsters use GPS technology to plot points that would go onto the map.  In Kibera, over a million people are thought to be living in the frequently changing alleyways.  To help residents better navigate their town, the project is focusing the maps on identifying useful landmarks and facilities such as water-pumps, latrines, schools, health clinics, shops, churches and mosques.  The benefits of the maps can be vast, including helping NGOs fill the gaps in basic services such as sanitation and electricity.

If you would like to learn more about this project, check out the video below!
YouTube Preview Image

Click here to visit the original article.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

APSACS NGO Maps Show Home-Based Sex Workers on the Rise in Hyderabad

Andhra Pradesh state AIDS Control Society (APSACS) is aiming to target high risk groups (HRGs) in their intervention programs.  They inlisted the help of Catalysts Management Services (CMS) to map the HRGs across 210 towns in Hyderabad.  Based on the findings of the initial data, from 140 towns in 14 districts, the estimated total number of HRGs was 71,853 with 77% of them being Female Sex Workers.  This is a critical issue because the state of Andhra Pradesh is ranked third in India terms of HIV prevalence among adults.  In 2012, the reports have shown that the numbers of sexworkers in the former red light area of Hyderabad, Mehboob-ki-Mehendi, is still high despite the city’s new status.  APSACS is using the information to continue their efforts in targeted interventions in the Andgra Pradesh area.

Click here for a link to article, and if you’re interested in learning more about the initial findings, check out this article.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

The Importance of Citizen Participation in Mapping

As technology and access to data continues to improve and expand, the potential of developing community mapping projects throughout the world to garner data and resources will become a vital for urban development and revitalization efforts.

In the article, “Empowering Citizen Cartographers,” Caroline Anstey clearly outlines the potential and importance of utilizing citizen cartographers to update maps and use the data being collected to improve conditions and facilities in developing countries. As was shown after the earthquake in Haiti, the power of social media and open source mapping tools brought together rescue efforts all around the world.

Photo from the New York Times

As Anstey states, “It’s a simple but harsh reality that most developing countries don’t have basic local data about where schools or hospitals are located. A recent mapping study of 100 health facilities and schools in Kenya found that only 25 percent of the clinics and 20 percent of the schools matched official data. Nearly 75 percent of locations needed to be updated. “

Efforts and initiatives being taken on by the World Bank and international partners will bring modern mapping technologies and tools to countries that need to create better ways of infrastructure development.

To read the full article, click here.

Nicola Mammes, VERTICES Research Assistant
Community Mapping Coordinator
Center for Community Mapping

A Year in Review: GIS Use on College Campuses 2011

In 2011 the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) developed a survey to measure the use of GIS on college campuses. According to the Directions Magazine article “GIS Adoption and Use on College Campuses: An End-of-the Year-Review and Look Ahead to 2012,” UCGIS was specifically interested in understanding, “how GIS is being used to foster research, teaching, service and community building across departments, schools and the broader communities within which our institutions are situated.” The results of the survey are interesting.

Although the standard academic fields that have made GIS a staple in their respective curricula such as  cartography, computer and information science, cognitive and behavioral science, engineering, geography, landscape architecture, statistics, surveying, and urban planning showed extensive  and increased use in GIS technologies, new fields such as the humanities, criminology,  public health, and university administrative and educational departments have also adopted GIS tools and technologies.

According to the article, “The preliminary findings of the survey suggest that GIS has a central role to play in establishing university-community partnerships, especially in areas such as community mapping, emergency preparedness and serving as stewards for community-generated data and information.” The survey both served as a tool for measurement and as a guide for improvement for the future use and expansion in use of GIS tools and technologies on college campuses throughout the country.

UCGIS is hosting a conference in May 2012 to further discuss and develop on the results found in this survey in order to continue promoting GIS as a relevant and useful educational tool.

Nicola Mammes, VERTICES Research Assistant
Community Mapping Coordinator
Center for Community Mapping


Non-Profit UK Based Open Source Mapping Powered by Volunteers Taking on GoogleMaps

Steve Coast is the founder and chair of OpenStreetMap, a UK-based non-profit that specializes in “free and open” map data.  Coast’s plan was to pioneer the first free licensing maps, however GoogleMaps had beat them to it.  Despite this, their maps are exceptionally accurate because of their backing by Microsoft and MapQuest, and even Google at an earlier point.  The main point of differentiation is that OSM utilizes open source mapping to collect local data.  Volunteers from all around the world are attaching GPS devices to bicycles and cars to help improve what OSM calls “volunteered geographical information,” or VGI.  Pat McDevitt, the vice president of engineering from MapQuest says that “the hyperlocal detail that a motivated community adds is way beyond a commercial provider.”  The maps go beyond those of marked streets, and into hiking and park trails.  There are also studies that support OSM’s VGI as an accurate mapping tool.  In a time were Google is preparing to erect its paywall and charge companies for exceeding usage amounts via their Mountain View API, OpenStreetMap steps in at the right time with the support of Microsoft and MapQuest as a free community-powered alternative.

OSM's Map of San Francisco

Google's Map of San Francisco

For more information, follow this link to the article.  To learn more about OSM, click here to visit their site.

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

Public Maps Gulf Oil Spill using Balloon and Kite Flights

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science is providing volunteers and the public with open-source tools for environmental data collection.  In 2010, they began mapping the Gulf Coast to document the effects of the BP oil spill.  The program took a year to complete and resulted in the creation of 50 regional maps.  PLOTS collaborated with Dr. Alex Kolker of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium to begin monitoring the wetlands on a bi-monthly bases in hopes to start a record of change over time.

So how is the public helping out?  With the use of low-cost equipment like the balloon depicted below, the process of collecting images for maps can be relatively simple.  They set the balloons in the air to collect images and then PLOTS stitches them together into a map in a process called georectification.  This technique carefully overlays images onto base maps and uses geographic landmarks such as a 3-way intersection as a rule of thumb.  These methods have proven to be effective and simple and can begin to give us a clear image of the timeline of the oil spill.

Balloon Assembly
Wilkinson Bay in Louisiana


Follow this link to article, and if you are interested in learning more about PLOTS, check out their site.  The also have a collection of their maps and a description of the imagery mapping technique through

Sandy Cao, VERTICES Intern
Community Mapping Intern
Center for Community Mapping

Mapping India: Open Source Community Mapping

A recent graduate from the National Institute of Design in information and interface design, Arun Ganesh is working to to map India using open source mapping tools.

As he states, “Sadly, in India, we still don’t have free and accessible maps. Neither the government nor the city provides us with them, so we have had to make do with foreign websites to tell us the name of the next street. Ever since I found out about the OSM project in 2007, I have been convinced of the power of open geographic data and how it can help improve everyday life.”

Open source mapping tools such as OpenStreetMap are becoming widely used and important resources in ensuring that communities play an active role in understanding and documenting the spaces around them.

Source: The Hindu

Nicola Mammes, VERTICES Research Assistant
Community Mapping Coordinator
Center for Community Mapping

NYC DOT Provides Maps for Walking to School


The New York City Department of Transportation has published a series of maps for each school district within the five boroughs indicating the presence of crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights and school location. Parents and other residents can view the traffic laws of the immediate area surrounding schools by logging onto the DOT’s website and downloading a .pdf version of the map. This allows parents to plan their child’s walking route according to the presence of safety features to reduce the risk of injury while traveling to and from school. The maps can be found by visiting the NYC DOT’s website here.

Jerilyn Krakower
Center for Community Mapping

FEATURED: R U Safe? Mapping Event

On December 1, 2011 Rutgers University students enrolled in GIS in Planning and Public Health taught by Dr. Wansoo Im,  an adjunct faculty member in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, mapped out safety on the College Avenue campus. The event was featured in the Rutgers University Daily Targum.

The interactive map made by the students using the Smartphone application Mappler Mobile can be viewed at

For more information on the event, you can can visit the event’s website at

If you are interested in developing a similar project or using this interactive mapping software, you can contact Dr. Wansoo Im at

Nicola Mammes
VERTICES Research Assistant
Center for Community Mapping


TODAY! R U Safe at Rutgers University?

There will be a community mapping event tonight, December 1, 2011, on the Rutgers University campus to promote the importance of safe university conditions and an awareness of the unsafe areas around the university campus.

Participants will be meeting in front of the Rutgers College Avenue Student Center at 7:00pm and will be conducting the survey until 8:30pm.

The female students in the GIS in Planning and Public health class are taking particular interest about focusing on the female perspective of security. Participants will record the level of vulnerability for designated sections of College Avenue using smartphones and surveys. The information collected will be uploaded onto an interactive online map which any Rutgers student will be able to access. The event is to help raise awareness and an understanding of the gravity of safety issues on a university campus and to teach Community Participatory Mapping as part of the GIS class. The promotion of safe habits and remaining aware of your surroundings will also be emphasized.

After the event, participants will reconvene at the Rutgers Student Center for pizza and refreshments to review and share experiences from the event.

To volunteer for this event, contact the project coordinator Jerilyn Krakower, go to, or find us on Facebook by searching “RU Safe” For more information in this event.

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