Written by Adele Rife
Maptivism: Using Online Maps for Activism
One aspect of GIS that got me excited to learn more was the potential power maps have for activism and social justice. In other words, the use of maps to promote a cause, or maptivisim!
Maps, especially interactive maps, can display a lot of information visually and have the potential to reframe certain topics when presented spatially. The impact can be strong, particularly when people are intimately familiar with a certain geographic space and/or topic. Furthermore, maps can display complex data in an easily digestible format, which makes data and data analysis more accessible to the population at large. However, maptivism isn’t limited to online maps and it is important to keep in mind that while web maps do add in a lot more capabilities and engagement, not everyone has access to the internet.
One example of maptivism is www.understandhomelessness.com, a website that defines homelessness, displays complex data on an interactive web map, and presents potential solutions for policymakers.
Understanding Homelessness is a project that aims to “help overcome negative stigmas about people experiencing homelessness through education, bringing transparency to the geolocated data that exists about the homelessness issue in the United States, and providing inspiration and solutions for city officials, organizations, and citizens to approach this challenge with hope.” The website does an excellent job of defining homelessness, displaying complex issues with infographics, and visualizing homelessness data in an amazing interactive web map. I highly encourage you to explore the map! You can change the data topics that are being displayed, the layout it’s displayed in (some of which I’ve never seen before), and more. The interactive map is powered by a combination of Leaflet, OpenStreetMap, Mapbox, Creative Commons, and Continuity.
There are a lot of other examples, some of which were talked about at last week’s Resistance GIS mini-conference at PSU. Some projects that I’m excited to be working on include:
What are some maptivism projects that you’re working on or want to work on? Do you have any favorite maptivism examples?