Maps and the Media

by: December 1st, 2009 comments: 0

Now that we’ve finished the initial training and mapping phase of the project, it’s time to look at where we’ll go from here. I have a particular passion for working with community and citizen journalists. Put that together with a map and you have an opportunity to actually locate where stories and events are taking place geographically.

In my view, the map is a way to represent visually the community’s knowledge about itself – it’s both factual and representative of the way this group of 13 wants the rest of the world to see Kibera. Good local journalism is the same, and ultimately we wish to support the kind of empowerment that comes from self-representation and local production of information. When a community becomes engaged in telling the story of who they are and reporting their own facts and their own news, a new kind of communication becomes possible.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working in Kibera, it’s that there is A LOT happening in this tightly packed city-within-a-city. As a journalist by nature (and sometimes profession) I get very excited about this. There are a few local organizations that produce community media – print, radio, video – with room for more. Kibera has a population estimated to be as high as one million – larger than many cities in the United States. So we’re now developing a project to put these existing streams of information together in one place on the web.

The entire time we’ve been here (and even before we arrived), I’ve been talking to everyone I can about local media in Kenya. We partnered with two NGOs who happen to work on media in Kibera. Carolina for Kibera (CFK)houses a small volunteer group known as Kibera Worldwide that uses Flip cameras to tell stories about Kibera. Kibera Community Development Agenda (KCODA) publishes the Kibera Journal, a monthly newspaper. We have now trained two journalists from the newspaper and one from local radio station Pamoja FM on mapping. The Flip camera group followed us throughout the mapping process, and I’ve been working most closely with them to create video portraits and interviews around Kibera to bring places on the map and issues of concern to light. They have also picked up some of the mapping skills along the way and produced a short film about the project.

We’ve begun working with Ushahidi to bring these different outlets together along with citizen reporting on events in Kibera. The purpose is not so much to report through the website to Kibera’s residents, who aren’t online most of the time; it’s to link together stories and facts from various community media to allow them to amplify their own coverage to the rest of Nairobi and the world. It’s to provide a shared platform that isn’t owned by any one of them. It’s to offer a way for ordinary residents to SMS reports into a channel that can be accessed by more than just one station or paper when an even occurs, and that can also be seen by authorities and police. It’s also because of a meeting I attended where Kibera’s community leaders met with journalists from Nairobi to discuss what they considered to be poor coverage – none of the positive things that they were doing made the news. The hard work on peace and reconciliation, economic improvement, democracy, health, you name it, went unrecognized. This is a complaint I’ve heard echoed everywhere while working in the community. It became clear that local media in Kibera was missing a link to the mainstream media, but also that they wanted to directly represent themselves – to shout louder.

In fact, sometimes the question about benefit to those who aren’t online misses the point. The digital divide is a fact and needs to be addressed, but when it comes to community information there is also a need for expression outward and collaboration within Kibera. Something like the Kibera Journal or Pamoja FM allows Kibera to talk to itself, while putting facts and stories online allows it to speak to the rest of the world (including wired Nairobi, politicians, national press). Our job, now, is to make sure the world is listening. A place of that size cannot be ignored, but it can and has been spoken on behalf of. This is where I think technology can serve even the poorest and enable them direct access to the eyes and ears of the powerful. It can also project their voices, so that those in power can no longer ignore them. A community with a voice is a community at peace.

Events this week at the UN East Africa Centre

by: November 30th, 2009 comments: 1

Invitation is extended to two Map Kibera events at the UN East Africa Centre this week (OSM Map).

Of course, we’ve just finished three weeks of mapping in Kibera, the Map Kibera project, with great initial results.

We are now focusing on getting the data in use, and getting the techniques of OpenStreetMap in use, and generally promoting concepts of open data.

If you are interested in either of the events below, please RSVP ASAP by sending email to contact [at] mapkibera [dot] org, so I can reserve seats.

Mapping Party
Wednesday, December 2, 9am-early afternoon, Block I upstairs (UNICEF Conference Room)

* Introduction to OpenStreetMap and the Map Kibera project
* Surveying with GPS and Walking Papers
* Editing OSM
* Discussion on Open Data, and exploration of potential map and data projects

10 Tactics Screening and Dialogue
Friday, December 4, 9am-lunch

Mapper Diaries

by: November 25th, 2009 comments: 0

Mapper Diaries

Here are some excerpts from the short diary entries that mappers have made upon uploading and editing their data in OpenStreetMap over the past three weeks:

This was my first day to do mapping and the day was quite intresting. Being that it was my first time to use a GPS machine. In the morning we went for afieldwork using GPS and we cuptured alot of thinngs. In the afternoon we used paper walking. So its quite good that as days goes on i will be knowing alot concernin Kibera. THANKS
Posted by anekeya at Tue, 10 Nov 2009

The campaign against Kibera’s Isolation: Early on the morning of 9th nov I and my associates came together and joined the team of Mikel in the mission to map and put Kibera on line.
Posted by Gee at Tue, 10 Nov 2009

Great to have volunteered in this exercise. For sure, there are lots of new stuff to learn ranging from the kibera community response on the mapping exercise and the new enhanced technologies.
Posted by Marimba Fednance at Thu, 12 Nov 2009

i enjoy mapping my ghetto, it is adventure
Posted by kevin at Mon, 16 Nov 2009

my fellow friends it has been a very nice experience to learn new things as a team and the challenges, i will urge to continue with same spirit please keep the fire burning. Guys we are the people we must be proud of Kibera and upgrade is part of our country Kenya
Posted by millicent at Mon, 16 Nov 2009

With time the marking got easier and interesting in Katwekera.
Posted by Gee at Fri, 20 Nov 2009

On 19th i mapped Makina. I realised that Makina is a wide village.
Posted by anekeya at Fri, 20 Nov 2009 08

mapping Lindi on this day was very cumbersome considering the fact that the rain had caused a lot of mud making it difficult to explore far flung areas of Lindi.
Posted by leonard kwaks at Fri, 20 Nov 2009

I got to learn more about the area especially the challenges facing the residents
Posted by lucy at Tue, 24 Nov 2009

Hello, guys it has a very nice experience to have new faces in carrying out Kibera map where we are trying to collect the hidden features and bring them into light. These will also help people of Kibera and country wide to access and know what we really have, positive changes and reality of Kibera. Thanx.
Posted by millicent at Tue, 24 Nov 2009

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