This semester was a blast studying at Civic. I took Sasha Costanza-Chock’s Introduction to Civic Media where we studied a series of civic engagement aspects that include media (in a large sense). One of the objective of the course is to get students to work on a civic media project their are passionate about and present the results in the end of the semester. In my case, I decided to work with the CivicMaps Toolkit.
For me, maps are really important for civic engagement. For a while I’ve been focusing on how the application of technology and innovation can enhance humanitarian action. It is well-known for many how the field changed drastically during the Haiti earthquake response. It was then when the Crisis Mapping community became internationally recognized for using new tools that included social media, networked collaboration and online crowdsourcing to collect, analyze and share information on where to send responders. I am a member of the Crisis Mappers community since then.
Last summer I worked at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. There, I helped write a document entitled Guidance for Collaborating with Volunteer & Technical Communities. As the tittle suggests, the guidance was meant to assist formal and traditional humanitarian organizations to collaborate with technical communities—a collaboration much needed in the humanitarian sector. The guidance is increasingly being used by humanitarian organizations and we are working hard to include as a basic resource. Because of that the CivicMaps Toolkit seemed the perfect opportunity to both polish that skill and contribute with community and grassroots organizations by providing them with a resource to better understand, use and, ultimately, succeed in their social change goals.
In the document bellow you will be able to see a wrap-up of my contributions to the project thus far. At least until the beginning of classes next semester in late January, I will be working on the Toolkit.