The Power of the Crowd: Mapping schools and hospitals

Event

The Power of the Crowd: Mapping schools and hospitals

photo of an event
Participants of the Social Infrastructure Mapping event
World Bank

In most developing countries it is often quite hard to know where hospitals or other basic services are located. Even if  this data is publicly available it can be inaccurate or incomplete. In the middle of November 2012, the OpenGov Hub and the World Bank Institute (WBI) hosted a Social Infrastructure Mapping event to raise awareness of this issue. More than 50 mappers from different institutions including Development Gateway, Ushahidi, ESRI, World Bank, Development Seed, Wilson Center, Blue Raster, Red Cross, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and many others came together to share experiences and discuss their ideas about how the problem could be solved.

Rob Baker, Product & Outreach Manager for Ushahidi, talked about some of the early planning stages for the forthcoming Ushahidi v3.0. He focused on what they have learned leading up to their current version, the culmination of four years of crowdsourcing mobile and social data from civic engagement to crisis response and how that is informing next steps toward better team management and creating actionable data.

Andrew Turner from ESRI labs shared his experience of utilizing social media and mobile technology. “Social media and mobile technology are increasingly the new town square where citizens are sharing their thoughts and feedback on social infrastructure projects,” he said. Bonnie Stayer showed how to use online tools to go quickly from a spreadsheet to an editable map that the public can use on their mobile phones or tablets to collect information. She also discussed what would be coming next in mobile technology – specifically, offline editing and new apps targeted at data and photo collection and building story maps.

open-quotes“Social media and mobile technology are increasingly the new town square where citizens are sharing their thoughts and feedback on social infrastructure projects” close-quotes
Andrew Turner

Qiyang Xu from WBI presented one of the most recent ongoing projects at Innovation in Governance - Points of Knowledge (PoK), an open source online toolkit that creates an accessible, attractive channel for citizens to correct geospatial information of official open datasets, including schools and healthcare facilities. The idea of PoK was derived from an early study conducted by Innovation in Governance on accuracy of Open Data Kenya datasets, which showed that the accuracy rate was below 22 percent. At the end of the talks, Marten Hogeweg who was visiting Washington, DC, from Redlands, CA, brought up the importance of closed feedback loops and the holes that break them.

Among the presenters were Zachary Bastian from the Wilson Center, Valerie Zolyak from BlueRaster, Dave Cole from Development Seed and Abby Baca from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. The major theme of the discussions centered on using the power of the crowd to create or improve data. Another important subject was the creation of incentives for local communities to participate in crowdsourcing activities. There was quite a lot of interesting work in the social infrastructure mapping space and the ideas shared during the discussion were helpful in moving this space forward.

The event at the OpenGov Hub was the first in a series of events supported  by WBI around the topic of Innovation and Governance. Fellow mappers from different organizations were looking for better solutions for geospatial data collection through crowdsourcing. The success of the event demonstrated the importance of exchanging experiences and promoting new ideas. The next event in the series will be held at the beginning of 2013. 

12/03/2012

 

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