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05 Aug 2011

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Friday’s Food for Thought: GEOINT for Social Justice

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Welcome to the Friday’s Food for Thought post from got geoint? You can finally let your hair down a bit, and even pat yourself on the back for a job well done because it is Friday. And what better way to reward yourself than by spending some time reading our much-lauded FFFT post. This week, we explore the use of GEOINT and social justice. Why explore this topic? GEOINT makes the world a better place. And, we were intrigued by USAID developing its own geospatial center (more to come on this one) to better fight food shortages in developing countries. So, we will be diving into this and much more in this week’s FFFT post. Oh and a reminder that the USGIF Awards Program is now accepting applications. The deadline is August 19. Don’t miss out and happy Friday!

Mapping for Change
Social science research has demonstrated a clear link between geographic place and the persistent absence of opportunity, particularly as related to health, but this reality is not yet widely understood by the public. To tell this story, advocates and policymakers are increasingly utilizing mapping tools, which provide stark visual evidence of the relationship. Our Health Care That Works initiative mapped race/ethnicity and wealth against open and recently closed hospitals in New York City, demonstrating that New Yorkers who live in predominantly minority communities face greater geographic barriers to accessing a hospital than those who live in predominantly white communities, and that this problem was exacerbated by the fact that six of the eight hospitals that closed between 1995 and 2005 were located in or near communities of color. Check out more from the Opportunity Agenda here.

Mapping Social Justice
As we all know, the use of GIS mapping technology has become an illuminating addition to the toolkit for social justice advocates, health care workers, law enforcement, transportation planners, education officials and municipalities. Be sure to check out the NPR segment that showcases a specific example of how GIS has been used to show real discrimination, and how it might be used to prevent future bias here.

Learn More About the Justice Mapping Center
There is a very cool organization called the Justice Mapping Center that uses computer mapping and other graphical depictions of quantitative data to analyze and communicate social policy information. Their approach is based on the plain fact that American society is stratified and that where people live is a direct expression of those different social and economic strata. Therefore, criminal justice, social welfare, and economic development policies are intimately related to particular jurisdictions, neighborhoods, and locales. The Justice Mapping Center aims to help its partners add these socio-geographic dimensions to their work. Check out more here.

Mapping and Social Justice and OpenStreetMap in Nairobi Slums
Teens have mapped the Nairobi, Kenya slum of Kibera, the second largest African slum to Seweto in South Africa. Kibera is home to more than 1 million people. The project was organized with the help of several organizations including “the humanitarian OpenStreetMap team in collaboration with JumpStart International, and other partners including Jubal Harpster of WhereCampAfrica, the Social Development Network, Pamoja Trust, Hands on Kenya and Carolina for Kibera.” Check out more here.

Stand Up for Your Rights
When thinking about a song to fit this weeks’ theme, there was one that clearly rose to the top: Bob Marley’s Get Up, Stand Up. Happy Friday and don’t give up the fight!

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